NZ Election Results act electoral commission parliament winston peters

Jacinda Ardern saw the plurality vote

Millions voted in New Zealand 's late general election.

Early returns put Jacinda Ardern on track to secure a second term, helped by her strong treatment of the coronavirus pandemic.

New Zealand's millions have voted
New Zealand's millions have voted

Yet the big question now is whether she'll win an unprecedented legislative majority.

Originally expected in September, the vote was delayed by a month following a revived Covid-19 outbreak.

Polls opened at 09:00 local time (Friday, 20:00 GMT) and closed at 19:00.

More than a million people voted in early voting, which opened on October 3.

Fresh Zealanders were also required to vote alongside the general election in two referendums.

Can Ardern gain an absolute majority?

Early results suggest that Ms Ardern will easily win a second term.

The question, however, is whether the Labor Party will gain an absolute majority. No party has sought to do so in New Zealand after it adopted a Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) electoral structure in 1996.

According to the Electoral Commission, with more than 30% of the ballots reported, Ms Ardern 's Labor Party took about 50 % of the vote. This will earn them over half the national parliament seats.

It needs to be seen if Ms Ardern wins a parliamentary majority
It needs to be seen if Ms Ardern wins a parliamentary majority

The centre-right National Party is about 26% of the electorate, with the Green Party about 8%.

Professor Jennifer Curtin of Auckland University said there were similar circumstances in the past when one leader was tipped to gain a majority, but that didn't happen.

"Once John Key was king, opinion polling put his odds at 50% of the vote ... but it didn't turn out the day," she said.

"New Zealand voters are very pragmatic in dividing their vote, and almost 30% send their political vote to a smaller party, meaning it's still a long shot that Labor will take over 50 % of the vote."

Another researcher, Josh Van Veen, told the BBC that he thought the "most likely possibility" was that Labor would need to form a Green Party government — one of two coalition allies that helped Labor form the government in 2017.

He adds that Ms Ardern's pandemic handling definitely earned her points, noting that New Zealand would "reject her if not for Covid-19"

"There was a very strong feeling at the beginning of the year that she had struggled to deliver on her goals. She was going to end child abuse and fix the housing crisis, but she didn't," he said.

"I feel her support will drop until the election is over."

What are the key topics voters vote on?

Ms Ardern vowed to adopt more climate-friendly measures, increase support for deprived schools and lift income taxes to the top 2%.

Seeking to delete Judith Collins, dubbed "Crusher."

Democratic Party Judith Collins' biggest opponent
Democratic Party Judith Collins' biggest opponent

Ex prosecutor, 61, belongs to the National Party. National vowed to increase capital spending, repay loans, and temporarily cut taxes.

But one of the key distinctions between Labor and National is the various leadership styles both leaders offer.

"Ms Ardern's kind, empathetic leadership is about making people feel comfortable. Ms Collins provides something else ... [which] responds to those who find patronizing Ms Ardern and want to feel in charge again," he said.

What else do people vote for?

Besides picking their favorite candidate and party, New Zealanders would also get a document telling them to vote in two referendums: end-of - life euthanasia and drug legalization.

Fresh Zealanders vote in two referendums
Fresh Zealanders vote in two referendums

The first requires voters to vote if the 2019 End of Life Option Act should come into effect. It seeks to provide terminally sick patients the possibility of finding assistance in dying.

This is a binding referendum, which means that more than 50% referendum "yes."

Legalizing and regulating cannabis would encourage New Zealanders to vote about whether recreational cannabis consumption should become legal.

This, though, is not binding-even though a majority of voters vote "yes"-weed does not become legal immediately. The new government will also have to pass a bill to legalize this.

The Electoral Commission will report provisional results on October 30.

How does NZ vote system work?

Fresh Zealand has three-year general election. In the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system, voters are required to vote twice-for their favorite party and their MP.

A faction must earn more than 5% of the vote or gain an electorate seat to reach parliament.

For eg, if a party gains 4 percent of the vote but no election seats, it won't manage to reach parliament.

Several seats are reserved solely for Maori candidates.

To form government, a party must win 61 of 120 seats. But after MMP was adopted, no one party was able to form a government alone.

An earlier state opening ceremony
An earlier state opening ceremony

There is typically no party that gets 50% of the party vote because there are too many parties to pick from-and there is typically no party that appears to be that successful.

So parties typically need to work together to get the numbers they need, leading to minority governments.

This also suggests that a smaller number of minor-party politicians will vote on the election despite a greater share of the main parties.

That's what happened in the 2017 election, when the National Party won most seats, but couldn't form the government as the Labor Party formed an alliance with the Greens and NZ First.