Final votes confirm that New Zealand will not legalize marijuana


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – In a referendum on Friday, New Zealand would not legalize marijuana after counting the final votes, as it failed to reverse the results from election night – though it came close.

The referendum to legalize the drug ended with 48% and 51% opposition in support, 46% in favor of the election night and 53% against. Special votes were raised after the October 17 election, which included foreign actors and accounted for about 17% of the total votes.

The special votes slightly increased the majority of Liberal Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Labor Party, ending with just 50% of the total vote and 65% of the 120 seats of parliament.

This is the first time a single party has commanded a majority in Parliament since New Zealand introduced a proportional voting system 24 years ago. And this is the first time any one party has won by a majority of all votes since 1951.

The landslide victory mirrored Erden’s widespread approval to tackle the coronovirus epidemic. The main opposition, the conservative National Party, ended up in Parliament with just 26% of the vote and 33 seats.

Ardern and top lawmakers in his cabinet were sworn in at a ceremony organized by Governor-General Pats Reddy on Friday. Ardern warned his colleagues about the difficulties that come with the virus and the economic downturn.

“You will control one of the most difficult times in New Zealand history,” Ardern said.

The new Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson will be the first openly gay man to play the role. He will also continue his previous job as finance minister.

Ardern has also assigned several indigenous Māori MPs to the top positions, including Nania Mahuta, who will play the role of foreign minister, and Calvin Davis, who will be the minister for children.

The final vote count barely changed the level of support for the second referendum to allow euthanasia, which won with 65% approval.

Nearly 3 million people voted in the election, and 82% had the highest turnout in more than 20 years. At the same time Labor won 65 seats and National won 33 seats, Liberal Green Party won 10 seats, Libertarian Act Party won 10 seats and Swadeshi Māori Party won two seats.

Although the Labor Party can govern alone, it has signed an agreement with the Green Party to work together on climate, environmental and child welfare issues. Two Green Party MPs have also been given a ministerial role outside the cabinet.

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