NEW: Prime Minister John Key says he aims to build "a broader majority"
His National Party wins third term with 48% of vote; opposition Labour Party gets 25%
Scandals over the government's integrity and spying allegations brought drama to the race
New Zealanders voted on Saturday after an explosive campaign
New Zealand’s center-right National Party, led by Prime Minister John Key, won Saturday’s general election with 48% of the vote, according to a complete preliminary count.
It was followed by the Labour Party, which took 25% of the vote, the Green Party with 10%, and the New Zealand First Party with 9%, the Electoral Commission said.
The National Party won 61 of 121 seats in the New Zealand parliament, but in his acceptance speech Key said he would seek alliances with smaller parties.
“I feel humbled and energized by the prospect of a third term. Over the next few days I will talk to other political parties with the view of putting together a broader majority,” he said.
Pre-election polls had put Key in the lead to win a third term. In polling for “preferred prime minister,” Key had 43% support, compared with 12% for Labour’s David Cunliffe – this despite allegations on the campaign trail that the prime minister lied to the nation by covertly approving a widespread spying program while publicly denying it. Key rejected the claims.
One of the most vocal critics of Key has been German tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, who has been a New Zealand resident since 2010.
While he could not run for office, the Megaupload founder has gradually emerged as a player on the fringe of New Zealand politics, as he fights a legal battle in New Zealand courts to avoid extradition to the U.S. on criminal copyright charges.
Earlier this year, Dotcom founded a political party, the Internet Party, which teamed up with the Maori nationalist Mana Party to contest the 2014 election. They campaigned for a more inclusive society, greater digital rights and an end to government electronic surveillance.
The coalition failed to win any seats in the election, prompting Dotcom to tell the New Zealand Herald that “the brand Kim Dotcom was poisoned … and I did not see that before the last couple of weeks.”
Earlier this month, Dotcom hosted a trio of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange in an event he called “Moment of Truth” in which they alleged Key misled the public.
The event, however, appeared to have little effect in denting the National Party’s path to victory.
Under Key, a former foreign exchange trader, the party is credited with keeping the economy on an even keel. Key has developed a reputation as a safe pair of hands with a friendly personal style – although his political brand may have sustained some lasting damage during a bruising election campaign, which saw one of his top ministers resign over alleged involvement in a political smear against a senior bureaucrat.
The National Party won the last election in 2011 with 49.78% of the vote.
Turnout has fallen “dramatically” in New Zealand over the last two decades, from 85% in 1981 to 69% at the last election in 2011, according to the country’s electoral commission.
CNN’s Michael Martinez contributed to this report.