LABOUR leader Jacinda Ardern will be New Zealand’s next Prime Minister after winning the support of a minor party to claim a majority in parliament.
Veteran MP Winston Peters, the leader of New Zealand First, announced he was backing Labour live in a long-awaited television announcement on Thursday afternoon.
The support of his nine MP’s will give Ms Ardern the numbers in the House of Representatives to form a government. The Greens are expected to also offer confidence and supply, which would give Ms Ardern a 63-seat majority in New Zealand’s 120-seat parliament.
The 37-year-old will be New Zealand’s youngest Prime Minister and its third female leader. She was only elected Labour leader on August 1 after a series of polls indicated the party would be defeated in a landslide.
Ms Ardern learnt of her success the same time as other Kiwis — as the dramatic announcement was made on live television.
She told media she was “honoured, privileged and humbled” to become Prime Minister.
“The negotiations have been courteous, constructive and robust. Throughout, we have focused on our shared values and the policies that can take New Zealand forward,” she said.
“We are both committed to forming a strong and durable government that can deal with the many challenges this country faces.
“The Green Party is now undertaking its internal approval process before we confirm final arrangements to form a Labour-led progressive Government. This too has been an excellent process, which I thank James Shaw and his team for.”
Regarding Mr English she said: “I thank Bill English and acknowledge the service he has given to this country as Prime Minister, and for a hard fought campaign. We both share a commitment to making New Zealand a better place and Bill has left his mark.”
She told media she expected to be sworn in as Prime Minister next week. The agreements with NZ First and The Greens would be made public within days.
When asked about the Julie Bishop citizenship drama, Ms Ardern said she is looking forward to travelling to Australia “as soon as I am able”.
In August, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop accused New Zealand Labour of conspiring to undermine her government.
Ms Bishop said Australia’s Labor party had used its New Zealand counterpart to raise questions about Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s Kiwi citizenship in the New Zealand parliament
“Should there be a change of government, I would find it very hard to build trust with those involved in allegations designed to undermine the government of Australia,” Ms Bishop said at the time.
Mr Peters said agreeing to support the governing National party — led by Bill English — would have meant a “modified status quo”, versus “change” with Labour.
He said it was the “decision of the New Zealand people”.
“The majority of people did what say, and we responded to that,” he said.
Mr Peters said Ms Ardern showed huge talent on the campaign trail.
The decision will come as a shock to National, which holds two more seats than the Labour-Green bloc in Parliament and ends its hope of leading New Zealand for a fourth term.
The National party won 56 seats at the September 23 election, short of the 61 required to form government. Today’s announcement means it will be the first time a party will lead a government that didn’t get the highest number of seats.
Two of its previous support partners, United Future and the Maori Party, did not win seats meaning Mr English had to approach NZ First — a party he and previous National PM John Key had shunned in recent years.
Mr Peters said the Greens had a confidence and supply agreement with Labour — suggesting they would be outside the Government — while NZ First would roles inside Cabinet.
NZ First made the decision based on how to best mitigate, not worsen, what New Zealand is expected to face in the coming years, Mr Peters said. He said the major policies secured in the negotiations would best serve New Zealand’s economic and social condition.
“Big or small, all of these policies are important,” he said. “It is not my privilege or responsibility to summarise and announce them today, that will befall someone else.”
Image source: RNZ/Rebekah Parsons-King via http://thewireless.co.nz/articles/the-jacinda-factor-we-ask-young-voters...