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Explained | New Zealand voted for change, what happens now?

Wellington: New Zealand’s centre-right National Party will head the country’s next government after Saturday’s general election, but it will be several weeks until vote counting is finalised and for now the country is in transition.

WHERE ARE THINGS WITH FORMING A NEW GOVERNMENT?

National won 50 seats and the right-wing, free-market ACT Party won 11, securing a majority of just one seat in the 121-seat parliament, according to provisional results from the Electoral Commission.

While National and ACT have the numbers to form a government on the current count, roughly 567,0000 special votes, around 20 per cent of the total, must still be counted. The official result is due on Nov 3, and conservative parties have historically lost at least a seat with the final count.

If they do, National may need the support of populist New Zealand First and its leader Winston Peters to form a government.

National’s leader Christopher Luxon said he would wait for the final count to come in but was talking with both ACT and New Zealand First.

SO WHO IS CURRENTLY IN CHARGE?

The incumbent government, the Labour Party, will continue to operate what is known as a caretaker government while the new government is formed.

According to New Zealand’s parliamentary website, a caretaker government can continue the normal business of governing and running the country but cannot make any significant decisions unless there is an emergency or crisis.

“On urgent constitutional, economic, or other significant issues, the caretaker government has to listen to the new incoming government – even if the outgoing Government disagrees with the proposed course of action,” it said.

WHEN MIGHT NEW ZEALAND GET A GOVERNMENT?

Once special votes are in, National will know how many seats they need to form a government and will start the official process of negotiating either a coalition or supply and confidence agreements with ACT and potentially New Zealand First.

Luxon said he would like to have a government in place before the APEC leaders meeting, which starts on Nov 11. However, he said this will depend on negotiations and special votes.

Parliament has to meet with six weeks of the official election result but there is no date for when a government must be formed.

WHEN WILL MINISTERS BE APPOINTED?

Ministers will not be announced until the country has a new government in place and these roles will likely be part of National’s negotiations.

However, Nicola Willis, National’s finance spokesperson, is widely expected to become minister of finance and both New Zealand First’s Peters and ACT’s deputy leader Brooke van Velden are both possibles for minister of foreign affairs.

(Published 16 October 2023, 03:50 IST)

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