New Zealanders are about to go to the polls in the most volatile and hard-fought race in recent history, which could usher in a change in openness to migration and trade as well as the central bank’s approach to monetary policy.
Volatile opinion polls have shown a neck-and-neck race towards Saturday’s vote, although the ruling National Party of Prime Minister Bill English has led in recent polls.
On the eve of the election, the NZ Herald Election Forecast predicted National would win 56 seats while a Labour-Green coalition would win 54.
To form a government, a party or coalition needs at least 61 seats.
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Jacinda Ardern has made her campaign about shaking things up, pointing the finger at the governing National party for widening inequality during its nine years in office.
Prime Minister Bill English has also been putting his human side on show this campaign, and playing to the National party’s voter base – in a country reliant on agriculture.
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Mr English, a career politician and a former finance minister, says he thinks a major accomplishment of his party is has been getting New Zealand onto “such a stable economic footing”.
“We believe the country clearly wants a coherent government,” he said.
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Despite slipping in the polls, Labour has remained optimistic.
When asked how she felt about her chances during Saturday’s election, Ms Ardern said, “Absolutely hopeful, we have given this campaign everything.”
But she says she realises they need the youth to turn out.
“We know though that traditionally, they’ve been less likely to vote,” she said.
“Only time will tell if this election will be any different, but I think if they turn out, that will really determine whether there’s a change of government.”