New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins concedes defeat as his Labour party loses the election, ending their six-year rule. The election results revealed a deep dissatisfaction among voters with the government’s handling of the economy during the pandemic, particularly regarding the rising cost of living.
The center-right National Party, led by Christopher Luxon, emerged victorious with approximately 40% of the votes. In light of Labour’s insufficient vote count, Hipkins acknowledges that his party will not be able to form a government. Luxon, on the other hand, sees the election results as a demand for change, and he pledges to work towards forming a coalition government.
Under New Zealand’s mixed-member proportional system, coalitions are common. This gives potential kingmaker parties such as the nationalist NZ First party and the libertarian, right-wing Act Party a pivotal role in determining the formation of the government.
Hipkins assumed leadership of the Labour party after former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s resignation in January. Ardern’s term in office was marked by various crises, but her popularity declined due to concerns over the rising cost of living, housing shortages, and economic anxiety. Additionally, the government’s strict response to the pandemic, which effectively controlled infections but took a toll on the economy, was a contentious issue for voters.
The election campaign primarily focused on improving the economy, addressing the cost of living crisis, boosting employment opportunities, and enhancing health, education, and housing. The National Party’s 100-day plan includes implementing tax cuts, revising the Reserve Bank’s mandate, reducing bureaucratic regulations for businesses, and rolling back some of Labour’s policies.
In contrast, Labour’s policies encompass extending free dental care, addressing the issue of rising food prices, promoting financial literacy, and providing financial assistance to working families.
Hipkins played a key role in spearheading the country’s Covid-19 policies in 2020. However, he faced a brief setback during the campaign when he tested positive for Covid-19. Luxon, a former CEO of Air New Zealand, assumed leadership of the National Party in 2021.
The official results of the election will be announced by the election commission in approximately three weeks, offering a definitive picture of New Zealand’s political landscape and the potential coalition government that will govern the country in the coming years.
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