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New Zealand Gets Liberal Government    10/19 05:57

   WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- New Zealand is getting a liberal government 
under challenger Jacinda Ardern after a small party said Thursday it would join 
her coalition following an 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 said his party's choice was either 
"a modified status quo" with the incumbent conservatives or a choice for change.

   The liberal Green Party will support the coalition but won't be a part of 
the government.

   New Zealanders have been waiting since the Sept. 23 election to find out who 
will govern after the election ended without a clear winner.

   The policies of New Zealand First are nationalistic and eclectic. Peters 
wants to drastically reduce immigration and stop foreigners from buying farms. 
He opposes plans by the incumbent National Party to increase the pension age 
and plans by Ardern's Labour Party to tax certain water users.

   New Zealand First is expected to extract policy concessions and some 
ministerial posts by joining the Labour coalition.

   Peters said in his announcement that his party's perception of how 
capitalism needs to change influenced its decision.

   "Far too many New Zealanders have come to view today's capitalism not as 
their friend but as their foe, and they are not all wrong," he said at a news 
conference. "That is why we believe that capitalism must regain its 
responsible, its human face."

   National has held power for the past nine years. Prime Minister Bill English 
says his party has grown the economy and produced increasing budget surpluses 
which benefit the nation.

   English had said he thought National could form a strong government with New 
Zealand First.

   Ardern says she wants to build thousands of affordable homes to combat 
runaway house prices, spend more money on health care and education, and clean 
up polluted waterways.

   Under New Zealand's proportional voting system, larger parties must 
typically form alliances with smaller parties to govern.

   A coalition needs at least 61 seats to hold a majority 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.


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