NZ conservatives win election
National Party's success ends Labour leader Helen Clark's nine-year grip on power.
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2008 12:51 GMT

Clark of the Labour Party has been prime minister of New Zealand for nine years [AFP]

Helen Clark, New Zealand's prime minister, has conceded defeat in the country's election after John Key, leader of the National Party, won enough seats to lead a conservative coalition.

Although National failed to win enough votes to secure an outright majority, its allies performed well enough to form a coalition.

Congratulating Key and the National Party "on the result they have achieved", Clark announced she would step down as Labour's leader.

"As is obvious to all, tonight has not been our night," she told supporters in Auckland.

Final results showed that National Party won 45 per cent of the vote, giving it 59 seats in the 122-seat parliament.

The ACT party, an ally, won five seats to ensure a National-led coalition, while the centrist United Future Party, also friendly to National, took one seat.

"I can confirm their willingness to lend support to establishing a new government in New Zealand," Key said.

Key will not need the support of the indigenous Maori Party, which won five seats.

The Labour Party took 34 per cent of the vote, giving it 43 seats, while its allies, the Green Party, had six per cent of the vote, enough to secure eight seats.

Campaign rhetoric

Key, a 47-year-old multi-millionaire former foreign currency trader, campaigned at a time of domestic recession and global financial crisis.

For her part, Clark had urged voters not to change governments, saying that the New Zealand needed consistent leadership during a time of economic uncertainty.

Her party accused Key of stealing its policies and of having a hidden right-wing agenda.

Earlier, Anthony Green, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera: "Key, a self-made millionaire financier, has played on [the flailing economy], promising a better economy.

"The weather in New Zealand tends to be more fickle than the politics - four seasons in one day is not an uncommon experience. But if the pundits and the pollsters are right, New Zealand will vote for change and, unlike America, opt for the conservatives."

Al Jazeera and agencies
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