Labour finally retake power after Peters gives Ardern his support

Jacinda Ardern is the new Prime Minister as Winston Peters announces a coalition government with the NZ Labour Party. (Photo: Rob Kitchin – Stuff)

19 Oct 2017

Jacinda Ardern will become prime minister as the Labour Party retake power after nine years in the cold.

Ardern learnt she’s the country’s new leader of the country at the same time as the public.

Meanwhile, National leader Bill English also found out he lost the role of prime minister at the same time.

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NZ First leader Winston Peters hasn’t mentioned the Greens in the coalition deal. He says he negotiated with Labour and it was for them to sort out the Greens agreement.

The deal was done when Peters got an individual vote from each member of his caucus and the board right before publicly announcing the decision.

Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern will be the country’s new prime minister. (Photo: Cameron Burnell/Stuff)

Peters has been offered the role of deputy prime minister and other portfolios as part of the negotiations with Labour but he wasn’t prepared to say what he would accept.

He says Ardern had “exhibited extraordinary talent” on the campaign trail and had taken the party from a “hopeless position to a position where they’re in office and government today”.

“Our perception was the people of this country did want change and we’ve responded to that.”

NZ First leader Winston Peters has decided to go with Labour. (Photo: Getty Images)

Peters said the party had to seriously consider a “modified status quo” or a “change” when making their choice following negotiations.

The portfolios offered to NZ First as part of their negotiations with Labour was a “sizeable list” – some were big and some were small but it would be for Ardern to announce those.

While not everyone in NZ First agreed with going with Labour, Peters says it was a strong enough consensus to go ahead.

His message to National was that it was “extraordinarily disappointing in a way to have to make a decision but it was always inevitable” and he praised the way they’d gone about the negotiation talks.

He said it showed MMP in a “new light” and in a way everyone walked away from talks wishing they’d done it more often.

The Maori seats are seemingly safe as Peters says Labour holds those, while voters were “fast on the hip, they were slow on the voting hip” and didn’t vote in large enough numbers to see them go.

There were jubilant cheers, including tears and hugs, from the Labour caucus room where MPs have gathered to hear Peters’ decision.

Peters isn’t answering any questions about whether he’s sure the Greens will support the coalition.

He maintains he’s never said a bad word “privately or publicly” about Greens leader James Shaw.

Peters says this coalition is between NZ First and Labour and he hasn’t seen any agreements Labour have made with the Greens.

The decision comes 26 days after the election and after 11 days of NZ First’s formal negotiations with National and Labour.

Both Ardern and Peters were determined to hold off negotiations until the special votes – 15 per cent of the vote – had been counted on 7 October 2017.

That proved fruitful for Labour and the Greens who picked up a seat each and put them in the game to negotiate with NZ First.

On election night National won 58 seats but that dropped back to 56 after specials were counted while the Labour-Greens bloc rose from a combined total of 61 seats – the governing threshold – to 63 seats.

In terms of the total party vote percentage – National received 44.4 per cent while the Labour and Greens block gained 43.2 per cent of the vote.

Those numbers closed the gap significantly between the two options for NZ First to govern with.

[Read the Stuff article]

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