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New Zealand’s conservative opposition secured a major win in the country’s parliamentary elections Saturday, ending six years of governance by the Labour Party dominated by former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who stepped down earlier this year, the New York Times reported.
Results showed that the center-right National Party won around 39 percent of the vote, with party leader Christopher Luxon becoming the country’s new prime minister. The Labour Party suffered a stinging rebuke and secured around 27 percent of the vote – a steep drop from the 50 percent it won in the 2020 elections.
Meanwhile, the Green Party gained 11 percent, while the libertarian ACT Party won nine percent.
The new coalition government could include the Nationals and ACT. Although it would not have a parliamentary majority, observers noted that support could come from the populist New Zealand First party, according to Sky News.
Political commentators said the results underscore voter frustration with the Labour government under Ardern and her successor Chris Hipkins.
In the 2020 polls, Labour under Ardern became the first party to secure an outright majority since the country switched to a mixed-member proportional system in 1993.
Ardern governed New Zealand throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the Christchurch shooting massacre and the White Island volcano eruption.
But many voters had grown disillusioned with Labour’s promises of transformational changes: New Zealand is experiencing a soaring cost of living crisis.
The National Party campaigned on a platform of tax cuts and offered relief to families, but critics questioned the funding for those cuts. Analysts also wondered how the new right-wing government will manage New Zealand’s policies addressing climate change.
Others, meanwhile, expressed concern about the ACT Party’s plans for a referendum to reconsider the role that New Zealand’s Indigenous Maori people play in policymaking.