Winning a third term is a remarkable achievement for any political party. New Zealand’s centre-right National Party did so on September 20th, carried to victory, as expected, by its popular leader and the country’s current prime minister, John Key (pictured). But securing an increased majority over its first and second terms, as National did on Saturday, is astounding: it raked in 48.1% of the vote. Based on figures from election night, the party will also have enough members to form a government without the need for supporting parties—the first time this has happened since the introduction of the mixed-member proportional voting system in 1996. And even if special votes (yet to be counted) mean that National will not have an absolute majority of 61 in the 121-seat unicameral house, Mr Key is unconcerned: support from the United Future Party, the ACT Party and the Maori Party, which have all supported National Party-led governments in the last two terms, would give the National Party a comfortable majority.
The results revealed a clear swing to the centre-right. Labour got 24.7% of the vote, giving it 32 seats—a disastrous result. The Greens, who had been counting on 15% of the vote, got just 10%. Parties get representation in parliament either by winning an electorate seat or by getting 5% of the party vote. National asked its supporters in the true-blue National seat of Epsom to vote for the ACT party candidate, thereby ensuring that ACT would be represented in parliament and be able to support National. Epsom voters obliged in sufficient numbers.
Winston Peters, leader of the populist NZ First, who has served as a minister in both National-led and Labour-led governments, was expected to play kingmaker. He is now not likely to be needed. He achieved 8.9% of the vote. He wants immigration to New Zealand reduced and cuts to foreign investment; he believes that the National Party called the election early because it expects the economy to slump later this year.
Full Article: New Zealand’s election: Clean sweep | The Economist.