Results of a national referendum in New Zealand show that the South Pacific country’s flag would remain unchanged after all.
Fifty seven percent cast their vote against an alternative design and voted for keeping the exiting flag, said the country’s electoral commission on Thursday.
People were asked to vote whether the flag bearing the Union Jack should be replaced by a design called Silver Fern.
The results, however, are considered as a defeat for Prime Minister John Key, who strongly promoted a change for the flag which he describes as a colonial relic from the days of British rule.
“New Zealand has voted to retain our current flag. I encourage all NZers to use it, embrace it and, more importantly, be proud of it,” he tweeted.
Key complained that the Silver Fern used by the All Blacks “screams New Zealand” in the same way the maple leaf identifies Canadians.
Supporters of the current flag, however, believed that changing the flag would disrespect previous generations who fought and died under the banner.
There were some other high-profile advocates for the change, who believe the existing flag was too similar to Australia’s.
The results now encouraged those advocating change in Australia’s flag. They also believe Australia’s current flag flag signals the country’s status as a colony of Britain.
“It’s disappointing and it’s more reason for us to change,” said Ausflag executive director Harold Scruby.
Seven out of the eight Australian state and territory leaders have called for the termination of the British monarchical rule over the country.
They signed a declaration in January, calling for an Australian head of state to replace the reigning royal in London on the eve of the Australia Day, which is the national day of Australia and marks the start of British settlement.
The country is a constitutional monarchy, with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. Despite having a largely ceremonial role, the monarch does have the power to dissolve the parliament in Australia.
Australia held a referendum on becoming a republic in 1999, which failed by 45 percent to 55, with republicans attributing that to the fact that the poll divided voters on how best to select the head of state.