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PacNet #42 – New Zealand election: no change or fundamental change?

Fluctuating polls before New Zealand’s election (Sept. 17, 2005, foreshadowed in PacNet #36B, Aug. 26, 2005), suggested a race that was too close to call. And so it was with the Labor Party (led by Prime Minister Helen Clark) securing 40.74 percent, closely followed by National (led by Don Brash) with 39.63 percent.  Media reports suggest Labor might be able to form a new, coalition government; but headlines such as “Stalemate,” “Nation waits while parties weigh options,” “ Clark faces coalition chaos,” and “Labor (for now)” underline the uncertainty. Clark believes she’s the first ever Labor leader to win a third term, but on election night could only say she would commence discussions with other parties. Likewise, Brash (who almost doubled his party’s vote from its disastrous 2002 result), couldn’t claim victory but, equally, wouldn’t concede defeat.