New Zealand’s center-right political parties have begun to jockey for position as Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon prepares to enter talks to form a coalition government.
(Bloomberg) — New Zealand’s center-right political parties have begun to jockey for position as Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon prepares to enter talks to form a coalition government.
Luxon, whose National Party won the biggest share of the vote in Saturday’s election, on Monday said his team had reached out to the two smaller parties with which he’s likely to share power — the libertarian ACT Party and the nationalist New Zealand First.
“We are going to get cracking with building a relationship and starting arrangements with each of the individual parties involved,” Luxon told Radio New Zealand. “I want to make sure I do it professionally, constructively, and work with each individual party.”
National and its preferred ally ACT currently have a one-seat parliamentary majority between them, but they may lose it when official results, which include special and overseas votes, are published on Nov. 3. That would leave them needing New Zealand First, led by the maverick Winston Peters.
Some National lawmakers might want New Zealand First involved whether it’s needed or not, in order to offset the influence of the more right-wing ACT, said Bryce Edwards, a political analyst at Victoria University of Wellington.
“They may want New Zealand First in the tent rather than just having ACT, which would push National further to the right,” Edwards said. “It’s better for the center-right parties to be working together in government rather than having New Zealand First outside, where they could turn into one of National’s biggest opponents.”
Complicating matters is that ACT leader David Seymour and Peters have a history of acrimony and distrust.
Seymour said on Monday that Luxon should prepare for both possible scenarios — a National-ACT coalition and a three-way governing arrangement involving New Zealand First.
“If New Zealand First want to be part of that discussion, then I think that they should front up and say what they want the next government to achieve and what can they contribute,” he told Newshub’s AM Show. “But if they don’t want to then I think the right way forward is for ACT and National to hammer out a deal.”
Talks should start before final election results are known on Nov. 3 because voters won’t want to wait until Christmas for a government to be formed, Seymour said.
Peters is a shrewd operator and will want to negotiate from the strongest possible position in order to extract the highest price. Special and overseas votes have traditionally favored the left, meaning there’s a reasonable chance that National and ACT could lose their majority.
Peters said yesterday that the country is in “an economic and social crisis” and “some of the promises you heard in this campaign won’t be worth confetti.”
Luxon said he won’t be providing a “blow by blow” account of negotiations in the media.
“Let’s use the three weeks to progress in a relationship and making sure we are set up for when we get the special votes confirmed,” he told RNZ.
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