6.16 The formation of a government following a general election is the usual process by which executive power is transferred from one government administration to another. For information on a mid-term change of government, see paragraphs 6.58 - 6.61.
6.17 Following an election, the Governor-General will appoint a Prime Minister and a government in accordance with the principles and processes set out in paragraphs 6.41 - 6.53.
Outcome of elections
6.18 Under New Zealand's proportional representation electoral system, it is likely that two or more parties will negotiate coalition or support agreements so that a government can be formed. A coalition agreement provides for a closer relationship between two or more parties than a support agreement, with a distinguishing characteristic of coalition agreements being that coalition parties are represented in Cabinet. For an outline of how Cabinet collective responsibility operates in coalition and support arrangements, see paragraphs 5.26 - 5.31.
6.19 Even when the composition of the government has not changed greatly, it has become standard for the government holding office before the election to be deemed the outgoing government and for all Ministers to formally resign, marking the end of that administration. The beginning of the new administration is then marked with a full appointment ceremony (see paragraphs 2.20 and 6.48).
6.20 During the government formation process, before the incoming government is appointed, the outgoing government continues to govern, but it does so as a caretaker government governing under the caretaker convention (see paragraphs 6.24 - 6.40).