New Zealand’s Luxon forges deal to lead new coalition government

The incoming PM says his National Party has allied with the conservative ACT and populist New Zealand First parties.

Christopher Luxon, Leader of the National Party speaks to supporters at his election party after winning the general election to become New Zealand’s next prime minister in Auckland, New Zealand, October 14, 2023. REUTERS/David Rowland
Christopher Luxon, leader of New Zealand's National Party [David Rowland/Reuters]

Three New Zealand political leaders have agreed to form the next coalition government, capping off more than a month of negotiations over their policy agenda and setting the stage for conservative leader Christopher Luxon to become prime minister.

Luxon, who leads the centre-right National Party, announced on Thursday that his party struck an alliance with the conservative ACT and populist New Zealand First parties, giving them enough seats to govern.

Luxon’s National Party won 38 percent of the vote in New Zealand’s October 14 elections, the largest proportion of any party, while the ACT won 9 percent and New Zealand First 6 percent.

Leaders of the three parties will cement their alliance in a signing ceremony on Friday at Parliament, following their parties’ expected ratification of the deal.

Drawn-out negotiations

While Luxon was destined to become the prime minister due to his party’s strong election showing, it took six weeks of tough negotiations to agree on a joint policy platform with coalition partners, who campaigned on different policies regarding taxation, race relations and economic management.

“I’m really proud of the negotiations,” Luxon said. “When you see the agreements tomorrow, you’ll understand how comprehensive they are. We’ve covered a tremendous amount of material.”

Luxon said he plans to announce the ministers in his coalition government following Friday’s formal sign-off.

ACT leader David Seymour and NZ First head Winston Peters are both in the running to be deputy prime minister.

New Zealand has had a caretaker government since voters ended the six-year reign of the centre-left Labour government in October’s elections.

Labour’s Chris Hipkins, who replaced Jacinda Ardern as prime minister in January, conceded defeat a few hours after the polls closed.

His party won 27 percent of the vote, trailing the conservative National Party by more than 10 points.

Luxon’s National Party has promised to ban cellphones in schools, crack down on crime and scrap planned fuel tax hikes in its first 100 days in office.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies