New Zealand. Despite the 1997 Prime Minister's shift from
James Bolger to Jenny Shipley, the ruling New Zealand
National Party found it difficult to strengthen its
position. Since Bolger became ambassador to the United
States, the ruling party in a May election election could
hardly defend its mandate. The party and coalition partner
New Zealand First (NZF) maintained their government position
with 61 of the parliament's 120 seats.
Countryaah, the mid-right coalition, however, lost its majority
through a NZF drop-off and fell completely short in August
after the NZF leader and finance minister Winston Peters
were forced to resign after a fight over privatization of
Wellington airport. With 44 mandates and parliamentary
support from 18 other members, Shipley could still remain as
the leader of a minority government.
Asia's financial crisis also slowed the economy in N.
Despite rising unemployment, the government eased its
immigration policy in October in the hope that well-educated
immigrants would create more jobs and growth.
A brief visit by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
in August was seen as a sign of better relations after the
crisis in 1985. At that time, N. broke the defense alliance
with the United States by banning nuclear weapons in its