National Party Wins

It was not a surprise last night to learn that the National Party won the election. The telephone polls had been telling us for a long time that National would get around 45% of the vote and Labour about 34% and that was exactly right. National has 59 seats but needs 62 for a majority. National will form a coalition government with the five members of ACT and United Future’s one MP, Peter Dunne, giving it 65 seats. A coalition is like a partnership. ACT and United will be part of the government but in return for their support, they will want at least one Cabinet position, like Minister of Education. However, ACT is a right-wing party and National’s policies are more in the centre. It could be difficult for National to have an ACT minister because ministers are responsible for policy.
The Governor-General in New Zealand, who is the Queen’s representative, appoints the new Prime Minister, and John Key would like this to happen by November 17th. However, special votes do not get counted until November 22nd and a new government does not usually take over until after that date. Special votes include votes from New Zealanders overseas. In this election, the 200,000 special votes will probably not change anything. John Key wants to attend the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) leaders’ conference in Peru on November 22nd. He says it is very important to talk with other world leaders because of the seriousness of the global financial crisis.
Although the election result was not a surprise, on election night, there was one surprise. Helen Clark announced that she will not be the Labour Party leader any more. She won her Mt Albert seat so will be an MP but will let someone else become the leader. The members of the Labour Party will decide this themselves. Michael Cullen, deputy leader, has also announced that he will step down from his job. He will not become the next leader of the Labour Party.
For a long time, people have suggested that if Helen Clark leaves politics, she would easily find a job in some international organisation like the United Nations. She has always been interested in foreign affairs and has travelled widely to attend meetings of world leaders. Another possibility is a job as New Zealand’s ambassador to some country overseas and John Key has already agreed that his government could appoint her to a position like that at some time in the future. It will be interesting to see if she stays in Parliament for the next three years.