Jacinda Ardern will be the new prime minister of New Zealand as the populist New Zealand First Party on Thursday said it will support her Labour Party in forming government, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Ardern took over as the Labour Party’s chief less than three months ago. At 37, she will be the country’s second-youngest prime minister and the third woman to hold the post after Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark.
New Zealand First party leader, controversial anti-immigration figure Winston Peters, is likely to be the deputy prime minister.
With a 7.2% vote share in last month’s elections, Peters’ party had emerged the potential kingmaker. The elections had ended in a hung Parliament, with incumbent Prime Minister Bill English’s National Party bagging most votes, but not enough for a majority.
The National Party clocked 44.9% of all votes, while rival Labour Party managed 36.9%, which translate to 56 and 46 seats in the 120-seat Parliament. The New Zealand First party won nine seats.
To have a majority, the New Zealand First-Labour coalition still need support from six more parliamentarians, which makes the Green Party’s informal support crucial as it has eight seats. Peters, however, seems to have ruled out the possibility of taking its support.
After the election results, Bill English had said he would negotiate with Peters to form government and was initially widely expected to remain the prime minister.