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Saturday, 27 July, 2002, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Victory for New Zealand's Clark
Helen Clark (c) with her husband(l)
Clark is victorious but without an outright majority
New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark has won a second term in office following a general election on Saturday.

With all the votes now counted, Miss Clark's Labour Party has 52 seats in the 120-seat parliament, falling short of an overall majority.

Bill English
Bill English's National Party has suffered its worst defeat in 70 years
A delighted Miss Clark told her supporters: "My objective throughout the campaign has been to see Labour returned to government and guarantee a stable, strong and progressive government for New Zealand. I know we have achieved that tonight."

The 52-year-old former university lecturer is the first New Zealand woman to win back-to-back elections.

Labour's main opposition, the conservative National Party, dropped 12 seats to secure just 27 - its worst result in 70 years.

The party's leader Bill English said he had called Miss Clark to congratulate her.

Minor parties gain ground

Strong gains by small parties were the key feature of this year's election, says the BBC's Greg Ward in Auckland.

Labour may need the support of several minor parties to form a centre-left coalition.

Election results
Labour Party: 41%
National Party: 21%
New Zealand First: 11%
United Future: 7%
ACT: 7%
Green Party: 6%
Progressive Coalition: 2%
Our correspondent says the most likely partner is Peter Dunne's United Future, which came from nowhere to take eight seats.

The low-profile Mr Dunne was previously the party's only MP, but his popularity skyrocketed after just one impressive TV debate.

However, Miss Clark has already approached the environmentalist Green Party which she says has promised its backing to form a government.

In the past, Labour and the Greens have clashed over the issue of genetic engineering.

The Greens are strongly opposed to Labour's plans to lift a moratorium on genetically-modified foods.

Popularity drop

Over the past three years the Labour Party has governed in a coalition with two minor parties.

Winston Peters of New Zealand First
Small parties such as Winston Peters' New Zealand First may be key
The opinion polls in June suggested that Labour had enough support to rule alone.

But just a day before the election, a New Zealand Herald poll showed approval for Labour had dropped from 50% to 38% in just four weeks.

Correspondents say that it may be some days before the shape of the next New Zealand Government finally emerges.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Anita McNaught
"Helen Clark will have to seek support from smaller parties like the Greens"
See also:

23 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
11 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
08 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
16 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
24 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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