After three weeks of waiting, New Zealanders are finally set to learn their election results and the shape of the next government. The country swung to the right in the October 14 poll, with the conservative National party replacing Labour as the most popular party.
Kiwis voted to turf out Labour, led by Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins, after six years in government and instead make National leader Chris Luxon prime minister. However, he has been made to sweat the form of his coalition government due to wafer-thin margins from the preliminary election results.
The on-the-night count showed National with 50 seats and the right-wing ACT party with 11 seats in a 121-MP parliament, the smallest possible majority. That count does not include postal votes, overseas votes and other “special” votes which comprise about 20 per cent of the overall tally, and are being folded into the count since polling day.
Australia has a similar wait to finalise its ballot-counting, but the Electoral Commission regularly publishes progress counts. In New Zealand, there has been no update for 19 days, which has exasperated many including the prime minister-elect.
“Three weeks is a long time and it’s frustrating for everybody that we can’t get results quicker than what we can,” Mr Luxon told Newstalk ZB.
He said he had “no idea” why it took so long.
“We need it done fast as possible and if that means a 24-7 to get a vote counted, it’s an important part of our democracy … They could do a daily release of votes as they are counted,” he said.
“There’s a lot of questions to ask when we get into government.”
Special votes typically skew left, with an expectation that National and ACT will just miss out and Mr Luxon will be beholden to Winston Peters’ NZ First party for a parliamentary majority. That’s not a route Mr Luxon or ACT leader David Seymour are keen to travel.
Both used the campaign to warn Kiwis off voting for Mr Peters, who has adopted increasingly anti-authoritarian and fringe political views. Mr Peters has campaigned for a beefed-up COVID-19 royal commission, to designate local gangs as terrorist entities and against referring to NZ as its Maori name, Aotearoa.
His party won just six per cent, but enough to potentially have a mighty say in the next government. During the wait for the special votes, Mr Luxon spent time “chemistry-building” with his possible coalition partners, in the hope of swiftly concluding talks on the release of the final count.
The talks may not conclude in time for the Pacific Islands Forum summit, the key international forum for NZ, with leaders expected in the Cook Islands from Wednesday. Mr Luxon has kept those talks private, managing the process without leaks.
“We’ve been working really diligently, all parties involved,” he said.
“We’re working in good faith and goodwill. We want strong, stable government on the other side, and we’re working our way through those issues.”
Source: Yahoo News