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#www.pressebank.net Jacinda Ardern eyes majority as New Zealand votes

#www.pressebank.net Publishedduration2 minutes ago

image copyrightEPA

image captionThe Labour Party is on course to win an outright majority in the electionNew Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has won a landslide victory in the country’s general election.

With most ballots tallied, Ms Ardern’s Labour Party has won 49% of the vote and she is projected to win a rare outright parliamentary majority.

The opposition centre-right National Party, currently on 27%, has admitted defeat in Saturday’s poll.

The vote was originally due to be in September, but was postponed by a month after a renewed Covid-19 outbreak.

The polls opened at 09:00 local time (20:00 GMT Friday) and closed at 19:00.

More than a million people had already voted in early polling which opened up on 3 October.

New Zealanders were also asked to vote in two referendums alongside the general election.

Could Ardern win an outright majority?

According to the Electoral Commission, the Labour Party are on 49% of the vote, followed by the National Party on 27%, and the ACT New Zealand and Green parties on 8%.

National Party leader Judith Collins has congratulated Ms Ardern and promised her party would be a “robust opposition”.

“Three years will be gone in the blink of an eye,” she said, referring to the next scheduled election. “We will be back.”

Ms Ardern’s Labour Party is projected to win 64 seats – enough to give them an outright majority. No party has managed to do so in New Zealand since it introduced a parliamentary system known as Mixed Member Proportional representation (MMP) in 1996.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionMs Ardern is projected to win a parliamentary majorityBefore the vote, experts doubted whether the Labour Party could win such a majority.

Professor Jennifer Curtin of the University of Auckland said previous party leaders had been tipped to win a majority, but failed to do so.

“New Zealand voters are quite tactical in that they split their vote, and close to 30% give their party vote to a smaller party, which means it is still a long shot that Labour will win over 50% of the vote.”

Ms Ardern pledged to instil more climate-friendly policies, boost funding for disadvantaged schools and raise income taxes on top earners.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionJudith Collins of the National Party is the main challengerMs Collins and the National Party had pledged to increase investment in infrastructure, pay down debt and temporarily reduce taxes.

What else did people vote on?

Aside from choosing their preferred candidate and party, New Zealanders were also asked to vote in two referendums: the end of life choice on euthanasia and cannabis legalisation.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionNew Zealanders will be voting in two referendumsThe first aims to give terminally ill people the option of requesting assisting dying. This is a binding vote, which means it will be enacted if more than 50% vote “yes”.

The second is over whether the recreational use of cannabis should become legal.

This however, is not binding – which means even if a majority of people vote “yes” – cannabis might not become legal straight away. It would still be up to the incoming government to introduce a bill to legalise this.

The Electoral Commission will announce preliminary results for both on 30 October.

How does NZ’s voting system work?

New Zealand has a general election every three years. Under its MMP system, voters are asked to vote twice – for their preferred party and for their electorate MP.

A party must receive more than 5% of the party vote or win an electorate seat to enter parliament.

There are also a number of seats reserved for Maori candidates.

To form the government, a party needs to win 61 of 120 seats. But since MMP was introduced, no single party has been able to do so on its own.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionAn earlier state opening parliament ceremonyParties usually have to work together, resulting in coalition governments.

This also means a smaller number of politicians from minor parties could decide the election despite the major parties getting a bigger vote share.

That happened in 2017, when National Party won the most number of seats, but could not form the government and Labour entered into a coalition with the Greens and New Zealand First, a nationalist party.

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