Christopher Luxon, the former businessman set to become New Zealand’s 42nd prime minister, may have achieved his biggest turnaround yet.
The one-time Unilever Plc high flyer and Air New Zealand chief executive led his center-right National Party to 39% of the vote in Saturday’s election, up from 25.6% at the previous poll three years ago.
He must now enter coalition talks, probably with two smaller parties, to form a new government, and says his business acumen will again be a strength.
Luxon, 53, is a political novice, having served just one term in parliament. He became National’s fourth leader in little more than 18 months when he took over in November 2021 following a string of scandals and party in-fighting.
Immediately before his selection, the party had 28% support in opinion polls compared to 41% for the ruling Labour Party, then led by the charismatic Jacinda Ardern.
Since entering politics, Luxon’s Christian faith has been a topic for commentators.
Luxon never publicly fretted about his preference ranking, noting that rival Hipkins, a five-term politician, didn’t fare much better, notes Bloomberg.
He said his outside business experience makes him best-placed to lead an economic recovery.
“Coming from outside, you have a perspective that’s different than if you’ve spent 20 years as a career politician,” he said in the Bloomberg interview. “I’m more in touch — as I used to be in my old life — with what you could call my customers. I feel like I’m really in touch with what’s going on with the voters across the country and where their heads are at.”
…As some observers write, Luxon is a hawk on foreign policy. He actively criticized his predecessor Ardern for her non-involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. But the position of the new government in relation to China is even more important. They are ready for a sharp increase in confrontation – and the inclusion of New Zealand in the AUKUS bloc. So, in order to lose Chinese investment and turn into another battering ram against China.
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