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New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern shake hands after signing a coalition agreement, Wellington, Oct. 24, 2017 (AP photo by Nick Perry).

How Populist Is New Zealand’s Surprise Coalition Government?

Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017

After nearly a month of uncertainty following New Zealand’s inconclusive Sept. 23 parliamentary elections, a coalition government was finally formed on Oct. 19 between the Labour party, the Greens and the nationalist New Zealand First party. Though Labour’s recently installed leader Jacinda Ardern will become prime minister, New Zealand First’s “kingmaker” role has led many observers to wonder if the government’s policies will reflect a more populist platform. In an email interview, Stephen Levine, professor of political science and international relations at Victoria University of Wellington, discusses the results of the elections and what the new coalition means for New Zealand’s domestic politics and international relations.

WPR: What explains the outcome in New Zealand’s election last month, and what led to the surge in support for the Labour party? ...

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