Jacinda Ardern will become New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in more than 150 years after winning the backing of a minor nationalist party to form a coalition government.
After 12 days of negotiations, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters Thursday threw his support behind the 37-year-old, saying an economic slowdown was looming and that capitalism needed to regain its “human face.”
“It is an absolute honor and a privilege to have the ability to form a government for all New Zealanders,” Ardern told reporters. She said the talks with New Zealand First “have formed a solid foundation on which we can build a coalition government.”
The announcement caps a stunning rise for Ardern, who became Labour leader less than two months before the Sept. 23 election and will now take it into office for the first time in nine years. The local currency dropped on concern the new government’s policies, such as a potential cut in immigration, may curb economic growth.
“In terms of political risks, we’ve gone from zero-out-of-10 to four-or-five-out-of-10,” said Annette Beacher, head of Asia-Pacific research at TD Securities in Singapore. “Given that Peters is on the record for slashing immigration, reducing offshore ownership, changing the RBNZ’s mandate, until we get clarity on all of those policies, we’re going to have a lot of jitters and political and economic risk.”
NZD/USD has slid -1.7% to its lowest in nearly five months at NZ$0.7027 outright on concerns that a Labor government taking control would brings worries that the country’s deficit may increase and could therefore trigger credit rating downgrades.
Note: A change to the RBNZ’’s mandate from solely targeting inflation could occur and add full employment to its existing sole mandate of price stability.
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