How people elect parliaments
A new, three-party government will be formed in New Zealand after balance-of-power party New Zealand First chose to side with the opposition Labour Party rather than the governing National Party.
National lost its majority at the recent elections, securing only 44% of the total national vote and only 56 of the 120 seats in the House of Representatives.
New Zealand uses the mixed-member proportional voting system, so final numbers of seats in the House are closely proportional to the national vote shares of each party which wins at least 5% of that vote.
The other three significant parties in the House, the Labour Party (37% of the national vote share, 46 seats), New Zealand First (7%, 9 seats) and the Greens (6%, 8 seats) will now form a coalition to govern.
New Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern, selected just weeks before the September 23 elections, will become Prime Minister at the age of 37.
The Greens had declared all along that they supported Labour. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, an experienced politician who has sided with both National and Labour in past governments, this time also chose Labour after nearly four weeks of negotiations and deliberations.
Peters explained at his press conference that his primary reasons for choosing between his possible major party partners were concerned with economic policies.
“Far too many New Zealanders have come to view todays capitalism not as their friend, but as their foe,” Peters said in announcing his decision. “And they are not all wrong.”
“That is why we believe that capitalism must regain its responsible, its human, face. That perception has influenced our negotiations.”
There had been perceptions that Peters would baulk at a coalition requiring the Greens, but so far the necessary relationships seem to be tolerable.
Peters – who created and dominates his New Zealand First party and has twice previously held the balance of power after elections – announced his decision to the media without first advising either major party leader.
The decision on which major party forms the government now made, coalition leaders are saying that a detailed three-party settlement on policies and cabinet posts will be agreed next week.