Jacinda Ardern named New Zealand PM
New Zealand’s rookie Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern, will become the nation’s new Prime Minister after winning the backing of a small nationalist party that wants to curb the effects of capitalism.
“I want to start by saying that is an absolute honour and a privilege to have the ability as the leader of the New Zealand Labour Party to form a Government for all New Zealanders,” Ms Ardern said on Thursday.
Ms Ardern, 37, will have the numbers to form a left-leaning coalition government after Winston Peters, the leader of the New Zealand First party, said it would support a Labour-led coalition that will also rely on Greens Party support.
Mr Peters’ dramatic announcement late on Thursday ended weeks of political uncertainty after the result of New Zealand’s September 23 election was inconclusive.
He flagged a substantial change in direction for New Zealand including policies to restrain the operation of free markets.
“We believe capitalism must regain its human face,” he said.
Ms Arden’s unexpected victory is awkward for the Turnbull Government after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in August she “would find it very hard to build trust” with a Labour-led government in New Zealand.
At the time she was responding to allegations that the ALP had used a New Zealand counterpart to raise questions about Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s Kiwi citizenship in the New Zealand parliament.
“This is highly unethical at least but more importantly it puts at risk the relationship between the Australian government and the New Zealand government,” Ms Bishop said.
Ardern said she will make a trip to Australia as soon as possible.
It is understood Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sent a text message congratulating Ms Ardern soon after Mr Peters’ said he would back Labour.
Mr Turnbull also spoke to Ms Ardern on Thursday evening to convey his congratulations on her election victory.
Both leaders said they look forward to working together – close to home and around the world – and also to meeting face-to-face at an early opportunity.
Ms Bishop also congratulated Ms Ardern on her election, telling Channel Nine the two countries enjoyed a “very strong and deep” relationship and that she was “looking forward to working with the new government” of New Zealand.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was quick to congratulate Ms Ardern as well, saying she brought “extraordinary energy” to the Labour leadership.
“In electing their third woman to serve as prime minister, New Zealanders have again provided an inspiration for women and girls around the world,” he said in a statement.
Ms Ardern will take over from Prime Minister Bill English, whose centre-right National Party has governed New Zealand for nine years.
The New Zealand dollar fell sharply after Mr Peters’ announcement amid uncertainly about the new government’s policy agenda.
Ms Ardern only became the of New Zealand Labour leader on August 1 but had an immediate impact on New Zealand politics. She campaigned on the slogan “Let’s do this.”
Volatile opinion polls had shown a neck-and-neck race, but the ruling National Party of Prime Minister Bill English had led in opinion polls up until the polling day.
The Nationals won a bigger share of seats than any other party but was short of a majority.
Ms Arden, who elected to parliament in 2008 as its youngest sitting member, will join a crop of Generation X national leaders elected recently including French President Emmanuel Macron (39 years) and Canadian Prime Minister Justice Trudeau (45 years).
Mr Peters said he did not tell Ms Ardern what he had decided before making the announcement that he would back Labour
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