*:Not([hidden]): not (style) ~ *: not ([hidden]): not (style) {margin-top: 1rem;}]]>Image rightsGetty ImagesImage descriptionMillions in New Zealand cast their vote *: not ([hidden]): not (style) ~ *: not ([hidden]): not (style) {margin-top: 1rem;}]]>

Millions voted in the late New Zealand general election.

The initial results put Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on track to win a second term, fueled by her successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the big question now is whether it will win a parliamentary majority, which would be unprecedented.

The vote was originally scheduled to take place in September, but has been postponed for a month following a renewed Covid-19 outbreak.

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The polls opened at 9:00 a.m. local time (Friday 8:00 p.m. GMT) and closed at 7:00 p.m.

More than a million people have already voted in early polls that opened on October 3rd.

The New Zealanders were also asked to vote in two referenda alongside the general election.

Could Ardern win a clear majority?

Initial results show that Ms. Ardern is well on the way to winning a second term. According to the electoral commission, the Labor Party received around 50% of the vote from Ms. Ardern with 5% of the vote.

The center-right party has around 26% of the vote, the Greens around 9%.

However, it is questionable whether the Labor Party could win a direct majority. No party has done this in New Zealand since it introduced a parliamentary system known as Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) in 1996.

Image rightsGetty ImagesImage descriptionIt remains to be seen whether Ms. Ardern will win a parliamentary majority

Professor Jennifer Curtin of the University of Auckland says there have been similar situations in the past where a leader has been asked to win the majority, but it never happened.

“When John Key was in the lead, polls put his chances of getting 50% of the vote … but the day it didn’t work out,” she said.

“New Zealand voters are pretty tactical as they split their votes and give almost 30% of their party vote to a smaller party, which means that Labor is nowhere near going to win over 50% of the vote.”

Another analyst, Josh Van Veen, told the BBC that the “most likely scenario” is that Labor would have to form a government with the Green Party – one of two coalition partners who helped Labor form a government in 2017.

He adds that Ms. Ardern’s handling of the pandemic has certainly won her points and that it is “entirely possible” that New Zealand “would have rejected her if it hadn’t been for Covid-19”.

“At the beginning of the year … there was a very real perception that she had failed to keep her promises. It would end child poverty and solve the housing crisis, but it didn’t,” he said.

“I have a feeling that their popularity will decline after the election.”

What are the main subjects that will be voted on?

Ms. Ardern has pledged to introduce more climate-friendly policies, increase funding for disadvantaged schools and increase income taxes on the highest income of 2%.

Judith Collins, called “Crusher”, wants to oust them.

Image rightsGetty ImagesImage descriptionJudith Collins from the National Party is the main challenger

The 61-year-old former lawyer is a member of the National Party. National has pledged to increase investment in infrastructure, reduce debt and temporarily cut taxes.

One of the main differences between Labor and National, says Van Veen, is the different leadership styles that both leaders bring with them.

“Ms. Ardern’s kind, empathetic leadership is about making people feel safe. Ms. Collins offers something else … [and] appeals to those who find Mrs. Ardern patronizing and want to feel under control again, “he said.

What else are people voting for?

In addition to choosing their preferred candidate and party, New Zealanders also receive a paper asking them to vote in two referendums: the end of life decision on euthanasia and cannabis legalization.

Image rightsGetty ImagesImage descriptionNew Zealanders will vote in two referendums

The first will allow people to vote on whether the End of Life Choice Act 2019 should go into effect. The aim is to give terminally ill people the opportunity to ask for support in dying.

This is a binding vote, which means that it will be passed if more than 50% vote “yes”.

The referendum on the legalization and control of cannabis will allow New Zealanders to vote on whether recreational cannabis use should become legal.

However, this is not mandatory – which means cannabis may not become legal immediately, even if the majority of people vote “yes”. It would still be up to the new government to put forward a bill to legalize this.

How does the voting system work in New Zealand?

New Zealand holds general elections every three years. Under the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system, voters are asked to vote twice – for their preferred party and for their voter-MP.

A party must get more than 5% of the party’s vote or win a seat in the electoral seat to enter parliament.

For example, if a party wins 4% of the party’s vote but does not win any seats, it will fail to enter parliament.

There are also a number of places reserved exclusively for Maori candidates.

To form the government, a party must win 61 out of 120 seats. Since the introduction of the MMP, however, no single party has been able to form its own government.

Image rightsGetty ImagesImage descriptionAn earlier opening ceremony of Parliament

There is usually no party that gets 50% of the party’s vote because there are so many parties to choose from – and there is usually no party that proves to be that popular.

Hence, the parties usually have to work together to get the numbers they need – which leads to coalition governments.

This also means that a smaller number of politicians from smaller parties could decide on the election, although the larger parties receive a larger share of the vote.

This happened in the 2017 elections when the National Party won most of the seats but failed to form a government when the Labor party formed a coalition with the Greens and NZ First.

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