New Zealanders head to the polls for their national election on 14 October (the same day Australians will vote in the Voice referendum).
The New Zealand Labour Party, now led by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, has been in power since 2017.
Despite gaining popularity when re-elected in 2020, support for Labour has dipped recently.
Who are the key figures in the New Zealand election?
Chris Hipkins is the leader of the Labour Party, and Prime Minister of New Zealand. He has been PM since January, when he took over from the resigning Jacinda Ardern. He served as the country’s Health Minister during the pandemic, as well as the COVID-19 Response Minister.
Christopher Luxon has been the National Party and Opposition Leader since 2021. He entered Parliament in 2020, and was CEO of Air New Zealand from 2012 to 2019.
The current Labour Government faced criticism during COVID-19 over its pandemic management, which included strict lockdowns.
Rising cost-of-living pressures brought on by recent inflation have also led to criticism of the Government.
Labour has also been blamed for rising crime rates, including a particular surge in ram-raiding – the act of purposely crashing a car into
a store before robbing it.
Labour introduced a bill in July which would see penalties of 10 years imprisonment for ram-raiding.
In the lead-up to the election, the Government has been pushing a ‘six-point plan’ to prevent youth crime and boost police numbers and resources.
Labour also says it will introduce paid parental leave for partners and free basic dental care for people under 30 if they are re-elected.
The National Party’s election promises include a ban on gang patches (identifying gang symbols) in public and tougher gun laws.
It also put forward further crime policies to address young offenders. Those aged 10 to 17 who have committed a serious offence at least twice could be sent to a military academy or be forced to wear an electric monitor.
It has also promised to ban phones in schools.
What do the polls say?
The major parties will be looking to secure a majority of seats (at least 61 out of 120) in New Zealand’s one house of Parliament.
Polling from the 1News TV network suggests the National Party is slightly ahead of Labour, though it’s unlikely they’ll gain a majority by themselves.
Will there be a hung parliament after the election?
The election results could lead to a hung parliament – when neither party wins enough seats to form a majority government.
If this happens, the major parties will need to negotiate with smaller parties.
That’s how Labour achieved victory in 2017, by making a deal with the New Zealand First Party – led by former Deputy PM Winston Peters.
However, Peters has said he will not make a deal with Labour this year.