WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s centre-right National Party led by Christopher Luxon will form a new government with its preferred coalition party ACT, as Prime Minister Chris Hipkins conceded his Labour Party could not form a government after Saturday’s general election.
The National Party, now in opposition, had 39 per cent of the votes with 92pc counted, while the ACT party had 9pc. That would give the two parties enough seats to form a government, according to the Electoral Commission.
“On the numbers tonight National will be in the position to lead the next government,” Luxon, a former executive who once ran Air New Zealand and entered politics just three years ago, told supporters in Auckland. “We will make this an even better country.”
National won over voters by promising relief for struggling middle-income New Zealanders, and to bring historically high inflation under control while reducing the country’s debt.
“The overwhelming driver was dissatisfaction with the (Labour government),” said political commentator and former National staffer Ben Thomas.
Under former leader Jacinda Ardern, Labour in 2020 became the first party to capture an outright majority since New Zealand switched to a mixed member proportional system in 1996. But Labour has since lost support, with many New Zealanders disgruntled over the country’s long Covid-19 lockdown and the rising cost of living.
Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2023