Election day dawns in New Zealand, voters head to the pollsEuropost
Polls opened in New Zealand on Saturday morning as voters cast ballots in the country's delayed general elections. Opinion polls ahead of the vote have consistently shown the ruling Labour Party, led by Jacinda Ardern, likely to be re-elected for a second term.
However, to form a government, a party or coalition needs at least 61 of the parliament's 120 seats. And Labour is predicted to fall just a few seats short, needing its traditional coalition partners, the Green Party, to push the pair over the line.
Beside that, voters will also have the chance to significantly change the country's laws, when they are asked yes or no questions on two referendums; one on cannabis law reform and the other on euthanasia. The referendum on assisted dying will be binding. If voters agree with it, it will become law in October 2021. The cannabis law referendum will be non-binding, meaning it will be up to the next government to enact the law on cannabis if the public votes to legalise it.
The elections were due to be held in September but were delayed by a month to allow the country to get a second outbreak of Covid-19 under control.
Voter turnout is expected to be higher than in previous years with record numbers of New Zealanders taking advantage of early voting. Almost 2 million of the 3.7 million eligible voters had already cast their votes by Friday.