Voters go to the polls in New Zealand election

AP News
Posted: Sep 19, 2014 7:36 PM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Voters in New Zealand began casting their ballots Saturday in a general election that has Prime Minister John Key seeking a third term in office.

Polls indicate Key's center-right National Party is the most popular party, and Key is the front-runner to remain the country's leader. But that could be in jeopardy if opposition parties gain more than half the parliamentary seats and form a coalition.

Key's closest rival is David Cunliffe, leader of the liberal Labour Party.

The campaign was marked by a scandal after investigative journalist and liberal activist Nicky Hager published a book "Dirty Politics" which exposed the extent of the National Party's links with a conservative blogger. Justice Minister Judith Collins resigned from her ministerial portfolios after Key said she colluded with the blogger to try to undermine the director of the Serious Fraud Office, whom Collins oversaw.

Also contesting the election is a party funded by indicted Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, who founded the now-shuttered website Megaupload. Dotcom is fighting attempts by U.S. prosecutors to extradite him on racketeering charges over the site, which prosecutors say was used to illegally download enormous numbers of songs and movies.

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Dotcom says he can't be held responsible for those who chose to use his site for illegal downloads.

Polls indicate Dotcom's Internet Mana Party could win two or three of the Parliament's 120 seats.

Polls close at 7:00 p.m. Saturday with full results expected by 11:30 p.m.