Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Prime minister wins 3rd term

Published:Sunday | September 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key (centre) waves as he and his wife, Bronagh, and son Max (left) arrive at an election party for supporters after winning the national election in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday. - AP

WELLINGTON (AP):

Prime Minister John Key won an emphatic victory yesterday in New Zealand's general election to return for a third term, a result that will be seen as an endorsement of the way his National Party has handled the economy.

"This is a great night. This is a victory for those who kept the faith," Key told a cheering crowd in Auckland. "This is a victory for those who refused to be distracted and who knew that a vote for National was a vote for a brighter future for all New Zealanders."

Key gave credit to his deputy prime minister, Bill English, whom he described as "the best finance minister in the developed world".

With just a small number of special votes remaining to be counted, Key's party ended election night with 48 per cent of the vote.

DISASTROUS NIGHT

It was a disastrous night for the National Party's closest rival, the Labour Party, which won just 25 per cent.

"The truth is, the party vote has returned a National government, and over the coming days and weeks, we will need to reflect upon why," Labour Party leader David Cunliffe said in his concession speech. He said he called Key to congratulate him on his victory.

"It is rare for any government to be defeated while surfing an economic rebound with around a four per cent growth rate, even though the longer-term problems remain to be addressed," Cunliffe said.

Under New Zealand's proportional voting system, parties typically must form coalitions to govern for the three-year terms.

If the results hold, however, it would mean the National Party could govern outright — something that has not happened for any party since the proportional system was introduced in 1996.

But Key said during his victory speech that his party still intended to form a coalition with other smaller parties to gain a broader majority and form a stronger government.

The campaign was marked by a scandal after investigative journalist and liberal activist Nicky Hager published Dirty Politics, a book that exposed the extent of the National Party's links with a conservative blogger.

Justice Minister Judith Collins resigned from her ministerial portfolios after Key said she colluded with the blogger to try to undermine the director of the Serious Fraud Office, whom Collins oversaw.