WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND, OCT. 27 -- Jim Bolger, a conservative who wants to patch up relations with the United States, easily won election today as prime minister with his National Party scoring a landslide win.
The party capitalized on a faltering economy to end six years of Labor Party rule in this South Pacific nation of 3.5 million people.
Final unofficial results projected the National Party would capture 68 seats in the 97-member Parliament, with Labor taking 28 and the New Labor Party winning one. The National Party won 49 percent of the vote to 35 percent for Labor.
The National Party, which suffered a stinging defeat in 1987, has dominated opinion polls in the last two years amid public disenchantment with Labor over high unemployment and interest rates, as well as slow growth.
Although Mike Moore, a popular former foreign minister, took the lead of the Labor Party two months ago, he was unable to overcome voter unhappiness with the economy and Labor's unpopular privatization efforts, which National branded as "selling off the state silver to pay the bills."
David Lange, the Labor prime minister who forged the anti-nuclear policy that led to an estrangement in ties with Washington, had resigned 15 months ago, citing health reasons. Both Labor and the National Party pledged to continue the policy of barring nuclear-powered ships and ships with nuclear arms from making port calls.
But National also seeks some sort of reconciliation with Washington, and Bolger was welcomed there at a time when other top New Zealand officials were rebuffed.
U.S. warships have not made port calls since the policy took effect in 1984, because the Defense Department routinely refuses to divulge whether particular ships are carrying nuclear weapons. In 1986, the United States cut high-level contacts with New Zealand and dropped the country from the ANZUS military alliance, which also includes Australia.