The preliminary results of the referendum show that New Zealand strongly supported the legalization of euthanasia, the election commission announced on Friday. The country is also on the verge of rejecting changes to the law that would allow recreational marijuana use. According to preliminary data, 53.1 percent of voters are against, but almost half a million votes remain to be counted.
New Zealanders voted in two referenda on October 17, held together with the general election, in which the Labor Party of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a record victory.
The election commission said that almost half a million special votes cast in referendums, mainly abroad, remained to be counted. These are not enough to change the vote on euthanasia, but they could affect the vote on recreational marijuana use, the committee said. It is about 20 percent of the electorate.
Over 65 percent of those voting in favor of a law allowing euthanasia
The full results will be published next Friday, November 6, but it is already known that over 65.2 percent. voters voted in favor of a law passed by parliament last year allowing euthanasia. New Zealand will become the seventh country to allow assisted suicide.
The law, which allows terminal patients aged less than six months to live in an “unbearable” fashion to demand assisted suicide, will enter into force in November 2021.
Euthanasia applicants will have to be 18 years of age or older, with the consent of two doctors: the attending physician and an independent physician, and consultation with a psychiatrist in case of any doubts as to the individual’s ability to make such a decision.
Uncertain outcome of the marijuana referendum
Meanwhile, it is still unknown what the final result of the referendum on recreational marijuana use will be.
The election commission said 53.1 percent of voters were against the recreational use of marijuana, according to preliminary estimates. Should this ultimately not be the case, New Zealand will be the third country after Canada and Uruguay to legalize adult recreational use and sales of cannabis.
In 2017, Ardern backed the idea of holding a cannabis referendum to get enough support to form a coalition government. Throughout the campaign, the prime minister did not want to reveal how he would vote on this issue, but her representative on Friday said that the prime minister voted for both issues.
Main photo source: Reuters