New Zealand Election Odds Tip Labour Defeat Following Ardern Resignation
Betting sites have flipped their odds on who will win the New Zealand election in the wake of prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s resignation.
Ardern stepped down from the top job this January after more than six years in office, having led Labour first in a coalition government and then - since 2020 - with an outright majority.
New Zealanders head to the voting booths in October 2023 to elect a new parliament, and opinion polling has had Labour and the centre-right National party neck-and-neck for much of the past six months.
But Ardern’s decision to step away from frontline politics has caused a ripple in the betting odds that wasn’t foreseen by bookmakers.
Indeed, so much has the change been that the New Zealand National Party - led by Christopher Luxon - are now primed to beat new PM Chris Hipkins and win the next election.
New Zealand Election Odds
Political betting sites aren’t shy on swiftly changing their odds when big decisions are made. And Ardern’s resignation is the perfect example of how fast the bookies can act.
Ardern cited burnout as the driver behind her choice to quit, saying she couldn’t find the energy to continue in the role. “I would be doing a disservice to New Zealand to continue,” she said.
Hipkins has now replaced her and is handed the challenging task of shaping a government to the public’s approval just months out from an election.
And this is no easy task. Back in the middle of 2022 the bookies effectively had Labour and the National party level on who would win the New Zealand election.
However, the price flipped in National favour upon Ardern’s resignation and William Hill plunged their odds on a National victory this October from 4/5 (55.6% likelihood) to 1/4 (80%).
Meanwhile, Labour’s odds ballooned to 11/4 (26.7%). The flip exposed just how volatile politics betting can be when a party leader either quits or is deposed.
It marked a bigger shift in odds for an election than even Liz Truss’ resignation as UK prime minister, which rumbled the British betting markets.
But the odds flip hasn’t been fully reflected in the polls. In fact, public opinion is backing Labour more now than in early January during Ardern’s final days.
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Boost For Hipkins
Polling data from 1 News/Kantar at the end of January revealed a seven-point boost for Labour.
The government is now leading the Nationals by 38-37. Perhaps it was a good idea for Ardern to leave when she did?
Indeed, the bookies are also cottoning on and recent polling data has seen odds setters tighten up again.
Not enough to deny the Nationals a predicted advantage, but certainly a nudge back towards Labour.
Right now, the Nats are priced at 2/5 with betting apps to win the 2023 New Zealand election - odds that reflect a 71.4% likelihood. As for Labour, they now have a 36.4% chance of retaining power (7/4).
The recent polling boost for Hipkins is of course good news for Labour. Voters trust the new PM more than National leader Luxon, and are open-minded to what the new government will bring.
Deliver a successful reshuffle and Hipkins’ odds will greatly improve come August. But Luxon and his National party still have plenty of momentum.
The conservative leader has been vocal about the cost of living, appealing to the centre ground that is feeling the pinch of rising prices.
“What's the most important thing that we can do?” Luxon said. “That's control costs, don't pass costs on, remove those bottlenecks, control spending, single mandate, and tax relief.”
He is also keen to row back on a number of Ardern’s policies.
Right now, Luxon is popular enough to be a viable candidate for office. Hipkins hasn’t yet had time to prove to voters what he’s about.
Cue months of political wrangling as both main parties vie for the centre ground of an election that will set New Zealand’s course for the next decade.
How New Zealand Election Works
The 2023 New Zealand election will take place on 14 October and is currently considered too close to accurately call.
Voters will vote for all 120 members of the New Zealand House of Representatives. A party needs 61 seats to form a majority.
In 2020, Labour successfully secured a majority of 64 seats under the mixed-member proportional (MMP) voting system. The party is not expected to fare so well this time around.
Seventy-two of the MPs are elected directly, while the rest are assigned based on MP lists which are shared out once the votes for all parties have been tallied.
This will be the 53rd parliament of New Zealand and it is likely to fall down left/right divisions once again.
Labour and the Greens could well form a coalition to try and block out National, while ACT and the Māori Party are expected to gain some seats.
Bookies will pay out on which party ends up in government - although some may stipulate whether the result requires a majority in order for the wager to be fulfilled.
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