Following a resounding election victory on Saturday, former conservative businessman Christopher Luxon is set to become New Zealand’s next prime minister. The change in leadership comes after a six-year tenure by a liberal government, primarily led by Jacinda Ardern.
The specific composition of Luxon’s government is yet to be finalized, as the ballot counting process is ongoing.
Christopher Luxon was greeted with enthusiastic applause during an event in Auckland, where he was joined on stage by his wife, Amanda, and their children, William and Olivia. He expressed his humility in the face of victory and his eagerness to begin his new role, extending his gratitude to people from across the country.
In his address, Luxon acknowledged the public’s desire for change and stated, “You have reached for hope, and you have voted for change.” Supporters echoed his campaign slogan, which promised to steer the country “back on track.”
Outgoing Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, who took over the role in January, succeeding Jacinda Ardern, conveyed his concession to Luxon. Hipkins admitted that the outcome wasn’t what he had hoped for, but he encouraged supporters to take pride in the accomplishments of the past six years during his leadership.
Ardern’s unexpected resignation in January left Hipkins in charge. While she had secured a landslide victory in the previous election, her popularity waned due to public fatigue with COVID-19 restrictions and concerns about economic inflation.
With most votes counted, Luxon’s National Party secured approximately 40% of the vote. New Zealand’s proportional voting system suggests that Luxon, 53 years old, is expected to form an alliance with the libertarian ACT Party.
In contrast, the Labour Party, led by Hipkins, garnered slightly over 25% of the vote, about half of what it achieved in the previous election under Ardern.
Of notable interest is the closely contested race for Ardern’s former electoral seat, Mount Albert, which has traditionally been a stronghold for the Labour Party. The National Party candidate for the seat, Melissa Lee, expressed excitement but also nervousness about the final result.
David Farrar, a prominent conservative pollster, indicated that there was a chance Labour would retain the seat after all votes were counted. Nevertheless, initial observations suggested a challenging election for left-leaning parties throughout the country.
Luxon campaigned on promises of tax cuts for middle-income earners and a crackdown on crime, while Hipkins had advocated for free dental care for those under 30 and the elimination of sales taxes on fruits and vegetables.
The election also holds significance for the government’s relationship with the Indigenous Maori community. Luxon pledged to abolish the Maori Health Authority, claiming it created a division in the healthcare system, while Hipkins defended co-governance efforts and accused Luxon of endorsing racism.
Shortly after taking office in January, Hipkins faced crises, including deadly floods and a cyclone. He quickly abandoned some of Ardern’s contentious policies and embraced a “back to basics” approach with a focus on addressing rising living costs.
Warm spring weather in Auckland encouraged voter turnout, with lines forming outside some polling stations. Early voting prior to Election Day was lower compared to recent elections.
Throughout the six-week election campaign, both Hipkins and Luxon crisscrossed the country, engaging with the media. Luxon, despite his relative political inexperience, held his own in televised debates against the more seasoned Hipkins. However, he did encounter some missteps, including a gaffe regarding his weekly food expenses, which was criticized on social media as being out of touch with the cost of living.

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