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UPDATE 1-New Zealand's National Party marches back to power

September 20, 2014 - reuters.com

(Adds detail, quotes, background) By Gyles Beckford WELLINGTON, Sept 20 (Reuters) - New Zealand's ruling National party stormed to a third term in government in the country's general election on Saturday with the centre-right party securing an outright election night majority on a platform to continue tight economic policies. Prime Minister John Key's party won 48.1 percent of the vote, translating into 61 of 121 parliamentary seats and improving its performance from the 2011 vote. "I think people saw the country was on the right direction and they rewarded us," Key told reporters as he headed to a victory rally. "What you saw was people saying they were going to vote for the future of the country and the issues that mattered, and not be distracted." National was set to make electoral history under the proportional voting system by being able to govern on its own, but Key said he would look to renew support deals with three minor parties in the previous coalition government. The 53-year-old former foreign exchange dealer emerged untouched from allegations of dirty political tactics involving government ministers, and claims a government spy agency had planned mass secret domestic surveillance. "We've never seen a government grow in popularity into a third term. In many respects it's an extraordinary result," said Grant Duncan, associate professor of public policy at Massey University. He said National had offered nothing much in the election campaign apart from the prospect of tax cuts in the next couple of years, and it looked to be "business as usual" with tight government spending. The main opposition centre-left Labour Party slumped to its lowest share of the vote in more than 80 years on 24.7 percent of the vote, with leader David Cunliffe conceding they had lost to a "formidable political machine". "We have to reflect very, very carefully on the result," he told dejected supporters. MIDDLE NEW ZEALAND Key, known for his relaxed style, had unrivalled personal support levels going into the vote, and was seen epitomising middle New Zealand. "This is a victory for those who kept the faith ... New Zealanders didn't want people interfering with their election," he said. Key said National had a great chance of getting a fourth term in 2017, but it would have to earn it over the next three years. He confirmed he would talk to the small free-market Act Party, centrist United Future, and indigenous Maori Party, who together have four seats, to rejoin the government. The surprise of the night was the defeat of the Internet-Mana Party's one lawmaker. The party had been bankrolled by internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, who took responsibility for the failure. "The brand Dotcom was poisoned...and I did not see that before the last couple of weeks," he said. The strength of Key's victory also removed the possibility that veteran New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, whose party gained 8.8 percent of the vote, would emerge as king maker. (Additional reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Rosalind Russell) ((Gyles.Beckford@thomsonreuters.com; +64 4 802 7977 ; Reuters Messaging: gyles.beckford.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: NEWZEALAND ELECTION/RESULTS

Britain must honour pledge to grant Scotland powers, Gordon Brown says

September 20, 2014 - reuters.com

EDINBURGH, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown told British leaders on Saturday that they must honour their promise to grant further powers to Scotland after voters backed staying in the United Kingdom in an independence referendum. Just days before the Sept. 18 vote, Brown appeared to be making British policy by announcing that laws granting further devolution to the Scottish parliament would be drafted by the time Scots celebrate the birthday of their most revered poet, Robert Burns, on January 25. "The eyes of the world have been upon us and now I think the eyes of the world are upon the leaders of the major parties in the United Kingdom," Brown told supporters in Fife, Scotland. "These are men who have been promise makers and they will not be promise breakers and I will ensure as a promise keeper that these promises that have been made are upheld," he said. During the campaign, Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg promised to guarantee Scotland high levels of state funding and grant Scots greater control over healthcare spending. After Scots rejected independence, Cameron said the issue of Scottish independence had been settled "for a generation" but pledged a swift constitutional shake-up for all parts of the United Kingdom. (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden) ((guy.faulconbridge@thomsonreuters.com; +442075424758;)) Keywords: SCOTLAND INDEPENDENCE/

New Zealand PM Key on cusp of third term as polls close

September 20, 2014 - reuters.com

WELLINGTON, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Voting in New Zealand's election closed on Saturday with the centre-right government of Prime Minister John Key in the box seat for a third successive term, but likely to need the support of small parties to guarantee a majority. Wet and stormy weather lashed many parts of New Zealand, where 3 million people were eligible to vote in a contest that had Key's National Party, in power since 2008, set to attract the most votes. A Reuters survey of five major opinion polls put National well out in front with about 46 percent support, with the main opposition centre-left Labour Party a distant second on 25 percent. NZPOLL New Zealand's proportional voting system will likely mean National does not gain an outright majority and will need to renew its coalition deal with three minor parties to gain a majority in the 120-seat parliament. Key delivered pizza to reporters waiting outside his house in Auckland, where he was watching the results, and said it might be "tricky" to get a clear result on Saturday. Key stood on his government's record of economic management and strict controls on spending, which helped New Zealand post decade-high growth. The 53-year-old former foreign exchange dealer emerged largely untouched despite allegations of dirty political tactics involving government ministers, and claims that a government spy agency had planned mass secret domestic surveillance. "There's been all these distractions and different issues going on but polling hasn't really moved," Key said at the end of the campaign. A tight result could see the king-making role again fall to populist maverick Winston Peters, leader of the economic nationalist New Zealand First Party. However, Peters has refused to give any hint which side he might back. "He'll wait to see the upshot of the vote and what policy concessions he can ring out of the main parties before he anoints anyone," said political scientist Bryce Edwards. Exit polling is not allowed in New Zealand but early returns put National and its allied parties on track to retain power. (Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Paul Tait) ((Gyles.Beckford@thomsonreuters.com; +64 4 802 7977 ; Reuters Messaging: gyles.beckford.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: NEWZEALAND ELECTION/CLOSE

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