Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.
Jacinda Ardern announced that she would resign as New Zealand Prime Minister on Thursday. A meeting of Labour’s parliamentary caucus was called for Sunday, with a two-thirds majority (43 of the 64 Labour MPs) required to win. If nobody had reached this majority, voting would continue.
However, only one candidate gained the seven MP nominations required to stand: Chris Hipkins. As a result, Hipkins will be elected unopposed by caucus on Sunday. Labour holds a clear majority of 64 of the 120 total parliamentary seats, so Hipkins will be New Zealand’s next PM.
Ardern led Labour to a narrow victory over the conservative National in 2017 on the populist NZ First’s support, breaking a nine-year run of government by National. Labour was re-elected in a landslide in 2020 owing to the popularity of measures to keep COVID out.
Ardern also announced that the next NZ election would be held on October 14. The NZ parliament is elected by proportional representation with a 5% threshold, but parties can avoid this threshold by winning a single-member seat.
The combined vote for Labour and the Greens has fallen behind National and the right-wing ACT in the polls. National has led Labour since early 2022, soon after Christopher Luxon replaced Judith Collins as National leader in November 2021. The Wikipedia poll chart suggests a continued trend against Labour.
Hipkins is the education and policing minister, and has a high profile owing to COVID press conferences. He now faces a tough task to win a third successive term for Labour at the October election.