Tough choice means Deputy Prime Minister role is shared – between Peters and Seymour

By rnz.co.nz and is republished with permission

New Zealand’s new Deputy Prime Minister is New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, with ACT leader David Seymour taking the role for the second half of the three-year term.

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Peters has been leader of New Zealand First since the party was formed in 1993 and was deputy prime minister within a National-led government from 1996 to 1998 and within a Labour-led government from from 2017 to 2020.

ACT leader David Seymour first stood for the party in 2005 and was first elected to Parliament in 2014, becoming ACT leader the same year.

Seymour has been a vocal opponent of Māori co-governance and promised to repeal the Zero Carbon Act if his party came into power.

Peters has promised to end policies based on race and to take a tough stance on crime.

It has been six weeks since New Zealanders voted on 14 October, with the National Party needing to work with ACT and New Zealand First to form a coalition government.

National won 48 of the 122 seats in Parliament, ACT won 11 seats and New Zealand First won eight.

As negotiations inched towards resolution over the past week, it was clear the selection of the deputy prime minister was a final hurdle to overcome.

Before the election, National Party leader Chris Luxon indicated he did not particularly want to work with Peters, but would consider a coalition with New Zealand First if necessary.

During the election campaign, Seymour said he would not work with Peters, but this month he revised his position to say it was not impossible.

Despite their fraught relationship in the past, Seymour said during the coalition talks he had bonded with Peters over a shared love of dogs.

Departing Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni has said it is an important role.

“You are the person who stands in when the prime minister is not available, you also play an important role within your Caucus and making sure that those relationships are … unified,” Sepuloni said.

With the prime minister often busy, the deputy stood by to cover other tasks, she said.

The election results left Labour with little chance of forming a government – they won only 34 seats, while the Green Party won 15 seats and Te Pāti Māori won six.

After the Port Waikato by-election tomorrow, one more seat will be added to Parliament, taking the total to 123.

National, ACT and New Zealand First are expected to move into the Beehive over the weekend, with a swearing-in on Monday.

Luxon expects Parliament to resume on 5 December.

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