June 23, 2024

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Former businessman Christopher Luxon won the New Zealand election with a swing to the right

Former businessman Christopher Luxon won the New Zealand election with a swing to the right

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Former businessman Christopher Lacson will be New Zealand’s next prime minister after winning a decisive election on Saturday.

After six years of progressive government led by Jacinda Ardern, voters wanted a conservative change.

The tally is not yet complete, and it is unclear what Lacson’s government will look like.

The Conservative leader received a standing ovation upon his arrival at an event in Auckland. He was joined on stage by his wife Amanda and his children William and Olivia. “I’m proud of this win and can’t wait to get stuck into my new job,” he said. He thanked people across the country.

“You have returned to faith and voted for change,” he told them. His supporters chanted his campaign slogan, which promised to “put the country back on track”.

Outgoing Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, who has been in office for just nine months after taking over from Ardern in January, said he had invited Lacson to concede defeat to supporters on Saturday night.

Hipkins said it wasn’t the result he wanted.

“But I want you to be proud of what we’ve achieved in the last six years,” he told supporters at an event in Wellington.

Ardern unexpectedly resigned as prime minister in January, saying she did not have “enough fuel” to rise to the job. He won the last election by a landslide, but his popularity waned as people tired of Covid-19 restrictions and inflation threatened the economy.

His departure was led by Hipkins, 45. Hipkins was the education minister and led the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Preliminary results show Lacson’s National Party with about 40% of the vote. Luxon, 53, was expected to form a coalition with the libertarian ACT Party, based on New Zealand’s proportional voting system.

For its part, Labor under Hipkins appears to have won more than 25% of the vote, half of what it won under Ardern in previous elections.

Lacson has promised tax cuts for the middle class and a fight against crime. Hipkins promised free dental care for under-30s and the elimination of sales tax on fruits and vegetables.

The government’s relationship with native Maori was also at risk. Lacson promised to abolish the Maori Health Commission, which he said would create two separate health systems. Hipkins, who is proud of those co-management efforts, has accused Lacson of condoning racism.