Conservative former businessman wins New Zealand election, set to be prime minister

Conservative former businessman, Christopher Luxon, will be New Zealand’s next prime minister after a decisive election victory.

Election results: Christopher Luxon’s National Party won about 40% of the vote.
* Luxon will form an alliance with the libertarian ACT Party, as per New Zealand’s proportional voting system.
* Chris Hipkins’ Labour Party received just over 25% of the vote, about half of what it received under previous leadership.

Context: This election change comes after six years of a liberal government, mostly led by Jacinda Ardern.
* Ardern stepped down in January due to fatigue, and her replacement, Chris Hipkins, held the position for nine months prior to this election.
* Declining popularity due to COVID-19 restrictions and inflation affecting the economy led to a call for change.

Key promises: Luxon has promised tax cuts for middle-income earners and a crack down on crime.
* Hipkins’ campaign focused on free dental care for people under 30 and removing sales taxes on fruits and vegetables.
* Luxon plans to abolish the Māori Health Authority, accusing it of creating two separate health systems.

Points of contention: The veteran businessman’s campaign was not free of controversy.
* Luxon’s claim of spending only US$36 a week on food was criticized on social media as being disconnected from everyday living costs.
* However, Luxon’s corporate experience seemed to appeal to voters, despite his newcomer status in politics.

Immediate future: As votes are still being counted, the exact makeup of Luxon’s government is to be determined.
* A particular point of interest is the race for Ardern’s old seat, Mount Albert, which holds a tradition of Labour leadership.
* National Party candidate, Melissa Lee, is in a tight race to claim the seat.

View original article on NPR

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