New Zealand political parties team up ahead of 2017 election

AP News
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Posted: May 31, 2016 2:19 AM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand's second- and third-largest political parties announced Tuesday that they are teaming up to try and stop the dominant National Party from winning a fourth straight election.

The Labour Party and the Green Party said they have signed an agreement to coordinate their efforts ahead of the 2017 general election. The parties said they would support each other's bills, give advance notice of major announcements, and investigate joint policies and campaigns.

The two left-leaning parties said they would remain independent entities and will agree to disagree on some issues.

The two parties have made little headway in the polls since the center-right National Party first took office in 2008. Polls indicate Prime Minister John Key remains relatively popular after eight years as New Zealand's leader.

National currently holds 59 seats in the 121-seat Parliament, while Labour holds 32 and the Greens 14. New Zealand's proportional voting system typically requires parties to form alliances to govern.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the agreement was historic and would allow voters to know exactly where they stood when it came to voting for a progressive and credible alternative to the current government.

"This is a game-changer," she said.

But National Party Minister Steven Joyce made light of the arrangement. In a statement, he compared it to a popular New Zealand version of the reality dating show "The Bachelor."

"There's really nothing new here," he said.