NZ’s Peters opts for coalition with Labour-Green in government

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Jacinda Ardern’s speech in full after being named next New Zealand prime minister. Video: Guardian Wires

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Queenmaker Winston Peters ended almost three weeks of intense media speculation by declaring tonight that his centrist New Zealand First party would form a coalition government with the progressive Labour-Green bloc.

He spurned the ruling conservative National Party of outgoing Prime Minister Bill English, saying that NZF had more in common with Labour in terms of the future development of New Zealand.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, 37, will thus become New Zealand’s third woman prime minister after National’s Jenny Shipley and Labour’s Helen Clark – and NZ’s second-youngest premier.

This follows a mercurial rise for Ardern, who succeeded Andrew Little as party leader less than three months ago.

“These negotiations have been robust. But there has been more that has united the parties than has divided,” Ardern said after the Peters announcement.

-Partners-

“Labour has always believed that government should be a partner in ensuring an economy that works and delivers for all New Zealanders.”

Although Labour was beaten by National on election night on September 24, the Labour-NZ First-Green bloc picked up two extra seats from special voters and also represents more than half of New Zealander voters, who voted for change.

Peters is expected to become deputy PM and the Greens are expected to have environmental ministerial appointments outside cabinet to become a government partner for the first time.

Analysts believe the new government will have more progressive policies in terms of New Zealand relations with the Pacific and also more positive and active policies around climate change.

The new government is also expected to give greater emphasis to social justice policies and housing.

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