Change of Government in New Zealand

November 10, 2008

Over the weekend New Zealand elected its first conservative government in almost a decade, ending the rule of one of the world's longest-serving elected female leaders. Prime Minister Helen Clark conceded defeat with nearly all the vote counted, telling supporters that "tonight is not our night." She congratulated conservative National Party leader John Key, a 47-year-old multi-millionaire former currency trader who is now set to become the next prime minister. Helen Clark, a 58-year-old former academic, has led the country since 1999. She said she would stand down by the end of the year as Labour Party leader, a post she has held since 1993. Clark won re-election in her district and is expected to stay in Parliament for the near future. John Key campaigned on a platform of change, a similar strategy to that of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, but also blaming Clark's Labour government for letting the economy fall into recession even before the global financial crisis hit. Clark said the economic crisis meant New Zealand needed consistency, and she urged voters not to change governments. Labour accused Key of stealing its policies and of having a hidden right-wing agenda. The National Party will have to rely on small allied parties to form a majority in the 123-seat Parliament