New Zealanders have until Saturday 7pm local time (8am Belgium time) to vote in the parliamentary election. The key question is whether Labor Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, who took over from the popular Jacinda Ardern in January, will keep her legacy alive. The polls already seem to be favoring Hipkins challenger Christopher Luxon, though that could be a nail-biter.
In January, Ardern surprisingly dignified herself by stepping down as prime minister. This left Hipkins with the thankless task of keeping Labor in power. The island of nearly five million people has to contend with sky-high inflation, a rapidly rising budget deficit and recession. In addition, there is a general sense of dissatisfaction with the political status quo, which will allow the extreme to gain more votes. Opinion polls suggest that the Lacson National Party will win. Hipkins’ ruling Labor party has made some ground in recent weeks. However, no party will secure an absolute majority in 61 of the 120 seats, meaning it will have to look for coalition partners.
Winston Peters’ populist anti-immigration party, New Zealand First, appears to have been assigned a leading role. He previously helped Ardern in the saddle, but a new collaboration with Labor is out of the question. In the previous election, the party had disappeared from parliament entirely, but now it could wield a huge influence in New Zealand First Luxon. Apart from New Zealand First, Lacson also needs the support of the smaller liberal ACT party.
On the other side of the political spectrum, the Greens also seem to have wind in their sails. While this may be a pyrrhic victory, a more conservative government could weaken or reduce many climate aspirations. You will have to wait until November 3 when all the votes from abroad are counted. Many New Zealanders have started voting early. Polls have been open since October 2, with seven in ten New Zealanders voting early in the previous election
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