After New Zealand was ruled by the bourgeois
Nationalist Party for three terms, the change of power
came in the fall of 2017. Labor, whose popularity in a
short time had grown, advanced in the parliamentary
elections in September, although the Nationalist Party
remained the largest. With the support of the small
anti-immigrant party New Zealand first, Labor leader
Jacinda Ardern was able to gather enough mandate to form
a coalition government.
In December 2016, the Nationalist Party
leader, Prime Minister John Key, surprisingly told him
he was planning to step down for personal reasons.
Political analysts speculated on whether Key's departure
would give the Green Party and Labor
wind in the sails ahead of the parliamentary elections
to be held next year. Key's popularity among voters was
considered to be a strong contributing reason for the
Nationalist Party having managed to retain power since
2008. Shortly after Key's decision, Finance Minister
Bill English was appointed new Prime Minister.
Country facts and history of New Zealand, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
In early 2017, Prime Minister English announced that
parliamentary elections would be held on September 23.
According to English, the Nationalist Party's election
campaign would focus on the good economic development
during the party's nine years in power and the political
stability that the government could maintain. The party
was well positioned in opinion polls and looked to have
good chances to make the election.
But at the end of the summer, English and the
Nationalist Party unexpectedly received increased
opposition from Labor. The party had been given a new
leader, Jacinda Ardern, who sat in the former Labor
government at the beginning of the 2000s and also served
as adviser to Tony Blair's government in the UK. Ardern
was charismatic and only 37 years old - 20 years younger
"Time for change"
In the electoral movement, Ardern argued that things
could go much better for New Zealand than it did under
the leadership of the Nationalist Party and that it was
time for change. Labor wanted to combat the high poverty
rate among children, build housing that more New
Zealanders could afford (see Social Conditions), and
introduce free university education. Ardern also pointed
out that inequality had grown, the number of homeless
people had increased and that the country had one of the
highest suicide rates in the Western world.
Another important issue for Labor was to reduce the
record-high immigration in recent years - net
immigration would be reduced to 30,000 people compared
to today's 50,000 (see Population and Languages). The
party believes that immigration has increased house
prices as well as the burden on schools and hospitals.
The message was well received and Ardern became
increasingly popular, not least among younger voters and
women, and the party's opinion figures rose sharply. New
Zealand media called Labor's growing popularity "Jacinda
When all votes were counted, it was clear that the
Nationalist Party won 56 seats, while Labor received 46
seats in the House of Representatives. But none of the
parties had secured the 61 seats required to gain a
majority - not even with the help of their allies. The
Nationalist Party's support party ACT New Zealand
received only one mandate, and the eight mandates of the
Greens were also not enough for Labor to govern with its
support. Both the Nationalist Party's Bill English and
Labor's Jacinda Ardern had to apply to New Zealand
first (NZF), which had received nine seats.
Winston Peters, party leader for NZF, kept the New
Zealanders on halter and first announced in mid-October
that the party had chosen to support Labor and Jacinda
Ardern. NZF formed a coalition government with Labor
where Ardern was prime minister. NZF received four
minster posts with Peters as both Deputy Prime Minister
and Foreign Minister - despite the fact that NZF had
lost three seats in Parliament in the election,
including Peter's own seat.
The government was also promised backing from the
Green Party, such as support for the state budget and
distrustful votes. The party was assigned two
ministerial posts outside the government with party
leader James Shaw as climate minister. One objective of
the new government was stated to be to implement climate
policy changes in order to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions (see Natural Resources and Energy).
Foreigners are not allowed to buy real estate
One of the new government's first initiatives was to
present plans to ban foreigners from buying houses in
the country. In recent years, not only Chinese and
investors from Asian neighboring countries have bought
properties in New Zealand, but also wealthy Americans
seeking a safe investment for their money.
In the summer of 2018 got a law that prohibits
foreigners from buying real estate in the country
Parliament's final approval. However, foreign investors
are still allowed to build new houses. To try to solve
the problems in the housing market with a shortage of
housing and soaring prices and rents that few can
afford, the government has promised to build 100,000 new
homes weighted for first-time buyers in the coming
The Labor and NZF governments have succeeded in
pushing the work to further the welfare of the country.
The minimum wage has been raised in two rounds,
investments in a special pension fund (see Social
conditions) have been resumed and a law to fight child
poverty has received widespread support in Parliament.
In March 2020, authorities reported that a few
hundred people were infected with covid-19 disease. The
disease is caused by the new corona virus that had begun
to spread in China by the end of 2019. Jacinda Ardern's
government responded to the threat of the virus, which
grew into a pandemic in early 2020, by immediately
shutting down large sections of society. For about a
month, residents were ordered to stay home and not move
while the country's borders were closed.
At the beginning of June, 22 people had died of
covid-19, while just over 1,100 cases of the corona
virus had been confirmed. Jacinda Ardern emphasized that
the government's vigorous action has succeeded in
stopping the spread of infection at an early stage.
Shortly thereafter, the government decided that all
restrictions except the closure of the borders should be
FACTS - POLITICS
New Zealand / New Zealand
monarchy, unitary state
Head of State
Queen Elizabeth II
Head of government
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (2017)
Most important parties with mandates in the
Nationalist Party 56, Labor Party 46, Green Party 8,
New Zealand First 9, ACT New Zealand 1 (2017)
Main parties with mandates in the second most
Nationalist Party 61, Labor Party 32, Green Party 13,
New Zealand First 11 (2014)
about 80% in the parliamentary elections in September
parliamentary elections must be held by 2020