Beyond the question of who forms the next government, New Zealanders will look back on this election campaign as a turning point

Six weeks ago, New Zealand’s election campaign was limping toward a foregone conclusion. The centre-right National party looked a shoo-in for a fourth term (matching the legendary 1960-72 administration of Keith Holyoake), and prime minister Bill English was on track to find redemption (he was party leader when National suffered its worst-ever election defeat in 2002).

The most recent polls suggest that both of these things may well happen. But in every other respect New Zealand’s domestic politics have been transformed.

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