Backgrounder: Basic information of New Zealand
Backgrounder: New Zealand mixed-member proportional electoral
Profile: New Zealand opposition National party leader John
Profile: New Zealand Labor party leader Helen
A voter casts her ballot near Wellington, capital of New Zealand, on Nov. 8, 2008. New Zealand's eligible voters began to cast their ballots on Saturday to elect members of the parliament. A new government will also be formed after the election. (Xinhua/Huang Xingwei)Photo
WELLINGTON, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- The eligible voters in
New Zealand began to cast their ballots on Saturday to elect members of the
Some 2,700 polling stations around the country opened
at 09:00 a.m. local time (2000 GMT Friday) and will close at 07:00 p.m. (0600
GMT Saturday). Nearly 3 million eligible voters were expected to cast their
ballots. New Zealand's total population is 4.3 million.
At a polling station in Wellington, a middle-aged man
named Stephen said that he would vote for the opposition National party, because
he wanted to see some change. "The Labor has governed the country for nine
years. Why not give the National an opportunity?"
An old pensioner named Paula said she would vote for
Labor so she can hold on to the pension. "It is better the devil you know than
the devil you don't know. I think the Labor has done a good job," she said.
The leaders of the two main parties are in Auckland
as the country votes.
Labor Leader Helen Clark will cast her ballot at
Kowhai Intermediate School in Mt Eden, in her Mt Albert electorate.
The National Party leader John Key will vote at
Parnell District School, in the Epsom electorate.
Under the Electoral Law, each voter has a party vote
and an electorate vote. The party vote will help decide the share of seats each
party gets in the parliament. The electorate vote helps decide who becomes the
local members of the parliament.
There are 63 general electorate seats, 7 Maori
electorate seats and 50 list seats in the parliament.
A total of 19 registered political parties and 681
candidates were contesting the election, held every three years.
The preliminary election results were expected to be
announced on Friday evening. The official results are expected on Nov. 22.
New Zealand's main opposition National Party leads
the ruling Labor Party and is poised to win the election, according to the final
round of polls released on Friday evening.
The last opinion poll released before the election
puts the National Party ahead of Labor by 7.5 points. Four other polls published
on Thursday and Friday also put National in the lead, but by a greater margin.
The Roy Morgan poll published on Friday evening put
National on42 percent support, down one point from the previous poll, and Labor
up 2.5 points to 34.5 percent - giving National a 7.5 percent lead.