The Latest: Ardern says its ‘honor and a privilege’ to lead
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The Latest on New Zealand’s government (all times local):
Jacinda Ardern says it is an “honor and a privilege” to be able to form a government that will serve all New Zealanders.
She said the negotiations with the New Zealand First party were robust but there was more that united them than divided them.
She thanked outgoing Prime Minister Bill English for his nine years of service as finance minister and leader.
English said he was naturally disappointed not to continue as prime minister but felt he had left New Zealand in good shape and said the country has plenty of opportunities ahead.
Asked how he rated Ardern, English noted her rapid rise.
“That’s a fairly remarkable performance given that just 10 or 12 weeks ago she was the deputy leader of a failing opposition.”
Jacinda Ardern will be New Zealand’s next prime minister after a small political party chose to make a deal with liberals following the nation’s election nearly a month ago.
At 37 years old, Ardern will be the nation’s youngest leader in more than 150 years. She has been compared to other young, charismatic leaders such as President Emmanuel Macron in France and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters announced Thursday that his party had decided to enter a coalition with Ardern’s Labour Party. The liberal Green Party will support the coalition but won’t be part of the government’s decision-making cabinet.
New Zealanders have been waiting since the Sept. 23 election to find out who will govern after the election ended without a clear winner.
New Zealanders expect to learn Thursday if their next prime minister will be 37-year-old liberal challenger Jacinda Ardern or 55-year-old conservative incumbent Bill English.
The maverick leader of a small party that holds the balance of power said he would be making an announcement.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is expected to declare which of the main parties he favors joining in a coalition.
New Zealand First has been negotiating privately with Ardern’s Labour Party and English’s National Party after an election held nearly a month ago ended without a clear winner.
A coalition needs at least 61 seats to govern in the 120-seat parliament. National won 56 seats while the liberal bloc of Labour and the Green Party won 54. New Zealand First won nine seats.