No end in sight for New Zealand’s coalition deadlock

No end in sight for New Zealand’s coalition deadlock

More than four weeks after the general election, New Zealanders are still in the dark about who will form their next government, as the parties involved in the coalition talks struggle to reach an agreement.

The election on 14th October resulted in a hung parliament, with no party winning enough seats to govern alone. The National Party, led by Christopher Luxon, emerged as the largest party, but needs the backing of at least one other party to secure a majority.

Luxon has been negotiating with NZ First and ACT, the two minor parties that hold the key to power, but neither of them has committed to a deal yet.

NZ First, led by Winston Peters, has the option of supporting either National or Labour, the main opposition party. However, Peters has been playing his cards close to his chest, demanding policy compromises and cabinet positions from both sides.

ACT, led by David Seymour, is more likely to support National, as they share a similar vision and agenda for the country. However, ACT has also been pushing for its own policy goals, such as cutting taxes, changing the voting system, and defending free speech.

The coalition talks have been stalled by the differences and conflicts between the three potential partners, who have often disagreed on various issues during the campaign and in the past.

For instance, National and NZ First have different views on immigration, foreign policy, and the economy, while NZ First and ACT have clashed over social issues, such as euthanasia, cannabis, and abortion.

The talks have also been hindered by the lack of openness and communication between the parties, as well as the media and the public. The talks have been held behind closed doors, with little information being shared about the progress and the obstacles.

The only official meeting between the representatives of NZ First and ACT took place on 8 November, more than three weeks after the election. The leaders of the three parties have not met in person yet, and have only exchanged phone calls and texts.

The delay in forming a government has raised questions over the stability and legitimacy of the next administration, as well as the impact on the country’s economy, diplomacy, and response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some experts have suggested that the prolonged uncertainty could affect the confidence of investors, businesses, and consumers, as well as the trust of New Zealand’s allies and partners.

Others have argued that the delay reflects the complexity and diversity of the political scene in New Zealand, and that the parties need time to reach a fair and lasting agreement that respects the will of the voters.

The parties have not given any deadline for the end of the talks, but Luxon has said he would like to attend the APEC Summit in Chile, which starts on 23 November. That would require the parties to finalise a deal, get the approval of their respective boards and caucuses, and have the new government sworn in by then.

However, that seems unlikely, given the current state of the talks and the fact that the final election results, which include the special votes, were only announced on 3 November.

In the meantime, the caretaker government, led by Labour’s Chris Hipkins, remains in charge, but with limited powers and responsibilities.

New Zealanders are hoping that the coalition talks will soon come to an end, and that the next government will be able to tackle the challenges and opportunities facing the country.