The Guardian December 1, 1999


A change to Labour in NZ

With postal and absentee votes yet to be counted, the New Zealand Labour 
Party will form a coalition government in partnership with the Alliance 
Party which is politically to the left of New Zealand Labour.

Of great interest is the fact that over 30 per cent of voters voted away 
from the two major parties. The Labour Party took 39 per cent and the 
National Party only 30.7 per cent. The Alliance Party (7.8), Greens (4.9), 
NZ First (4.3), ACT Party (7), United Party (0.5) and others (5.9).

This echoes the voting trend in Australia and indicates that many voters 
are dissatisfied with the major parties and are looking for alternatives. 
Some of the smaller parties in NZ are progressive while others are 
conservative.

New Zealand's voting system combines single member electorates and multi-
member electorates with proportional representation. It is still possible 
that the Greens will get across the 5 per cent threshold with postal votes, 
in which case they will take 3 or 4 seats. 

It is also possible that they will win the single member electorate of 
Coromandel where the Green's candidate, Jeanette Fitzsimons, is only a 
handful of votes away from defeating her National Party opponent. If she 
wins this seat she will become the first Green candidate in the world to 
have won a seat in a single member electorate. This will also mean that 
another 3 or 4 Green candidates will take their seats in the 120 member 
parliament as the 5 per cent threshold does not operate if a party wins 
even one seat in a single member electorate.

New Zealand's new Prime Minister, Helen Clark, comes from the Labour Party 
left and is expected to wind back anti-union industrial legislation, 
restoring collective bargaining, increase tax on high income earners, and 
may renationalise the accident insurance industry which was privatised by 
the previous National Party government.

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