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Jacinda Ardern to be New Zealand's Next Prime Minister

  • Associated Press

FILE - New Zealand First leader Winston Peters smiles during an election event in Christchurch, New Zealand, Aug. 16, 2017. New Zealanders are expecting to find out Thursday if their next prime minister will be 37-year-old liberal challenger Jacinda Ardern or 55-year-old conservative incumbent Bill English.

Jacinda Ardern will be New Zealand’s next prime minister after a small political party chose to make a deal with liberals following the nation’s election nearly a month ago.

At 37, Ardern will be the nation’s youngest leader in more than 150 years. She has been compared to other young, charismatic leaders such as President Emmanuel Macron in France and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters announced Thursday that his party had decided to enter a coalition with Ardern’s Labour Party. The liberal Green Party will support the coalition but won’t be a part of the government.

New Zealanders have been waiting since the Sept. 23 election to find out who will govern after the election ended without a clear winner.

New Zealand First has been negotiating privately with Labour as well as with Bill English’s National Party, after an election nearly a month ago ended without a clear winner.

FILE - New Zealand Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern in Christchurch, Aug. 16, 2017, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English, in Christchurch Aug. 24, 2017, and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in Christchurch, Aug. 16, 2017.
FILE - New Zealand Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern in Christchurch, Aug. 16, 2017, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English, in Christchurch Aug. 24, 2017, and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in Christchurch, Aug. 16, 2017.

Peters wants to drastically reduce immigration and stop foreigners from buying farms. He opposes plans by National to increase the pension age and plans by Labour to tax certain water users.

National had held power for the past nine years. English said his party has grown the economy and produced increasing budget surpluses, which benefit the nation. He said he thought National could form a strong government with New Zealand First.

Ardern says she wants to build thousands of affordable homes to combat runaway house prices, spend more money on health care and education, and clean up polluted waterways.

Under New Zealand’s proportional voting system, larger parties must typically form alliances with smaller parties to govern.

A coalition needs at least 61 seats to hold a majority in the 120-seat parliament. National won 56 seats while the liberal bloc of Labour and the Green Party won 54. New Zealand First won nine seats.

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