Voting was underway on Saturday for the New Zealandgeneral elections in which the ruling National Party has already emerged as a favourite but might need alliances to govern, the media reported. Some 3.2 million citizens are registered to cast their ballots across 2,400 polling stations, reports Efe news.
Voting will conclude at 5 p.m. (local time), according to the New Zealand Election Commission.
The centre-right National party, which has been in power for nearly a decade and led by Prime Minister Bill English is being contested by the centre-left Labour Party led by Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand First Party and the Greens.
The average in latest polls gave the National Party, which has been in power since 2008, 45.1 per cent of the possible votes and the Labour Party 37.2 per cent.
The two minor parties, which could be crucial for possible coalitions, the New Zealand First, polled 6.6 per cent, and the Green Party, 7.2 per cent, which places them above the 5 per cent required to be able to hold a seat in parliament, which elects the government.
According to this forecast, 55 of the 120 seats in the race would be held by the National Party, 46 by Labour, 9 by the Greens and 8 by New Zealand First.
One of the main concerns discussed during the election campaign was access to affordable housing as prices have risen by more than 30 per cent over the last three years, largely blamed on foreign investors, especially from China.
Other hot topics included immigration, with currently some 70,000 people arriving per year, income and capital gains taxes, health care costs, improvements in public transport and river pollution.