Sydney, Australia, Oct 14 (EFE).- The conservative opposition National Party won Saturday’s election in New Zealand, paving the way for the party to return to power after six years.
With 98% of ballots counted, the National Party, led by Christopher Luxon, was leading with 39.1% of the vote, while the center-left Labor Party, of the outgoing New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins obtained 26.8%, according to the Electoral Commission.
The results represent a dramatic turnaround with respect to the 2020 elections, in which former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who resigned in January, led the Labour Party to victory.
“On the numbers tonight, National will be in a position to lead the next government,” Luxon said, according to public broadcaster Radio New Zealand (RNZ).
Addressing a jubilant crowd of supporters in Auckland chanting “Back on track”, Luxon pledged to lead a government that would “deliver for every New Zealander.”
Luxon became a member of parliament three years ago after serving as the CEO of Air New Zealand between 2012 and 2019.
Hipkins, meanwhile, conceded defeat and said he had called Luxon to congratulate him.
“The result tonight is not one that any of us wanted,” Hipkins said.
“I gave it my all to turn the tide of history, but alas, that was not enough,” he said, according to RNZ.
The election ended six years of Labor government, which saw its charismatic leader Jacinda Arden – who won a landslide victory in 2020, with nearly 50% of the vote – resign earlier this year, leaving Hipkins at the helm.
The ultra-liberal ACT, which is expected to form a coalition with the Conservatives in a minority government, won 9% of the ballot, while Labour’s traditional allies, the Green Party and the Maori Party, took 10.8% and 2.6%, respectively.
The nationalist NZ First Party has won 6.5% of the vote.
This means that the Conservatives could form an alliance to govern with a weak majority, in contrast to Arden’s historic triumph in 2020, although they will not initially have to turn to NZ First as predicted.
Luxon has promised to curb inflation, lower public spending and stimulate the economy by attracting investment, with nods to Chinese capital for infrastructure and lower taxes, among other promises.
More than 3.8 million New Zealanders voted on Saturday in more than 2,300 polling stations across the country between 9am and 7pm, although about one million had already submitted their ballots ahead of election day.
The elections in New Zealand, with nearly 5.1 million inhabitants, were dominated by the impact of high inflation, crime, the climate crisis and the role of China in its foreign policy. EFE