Ardern's Labour Party Wins New Zealand Election, Opposition Concedes

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 17, 2020

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives at a press conference to speak to the media about changing the 2020 general election date at the Parliament in Wellington on 17 August 2020.

While the figures are early, they exceed pre-election opinion polls and would represent Labour's strongest showing since 1946 if they remain consistent. But more recent polls have indicated she may need the continued support of the minor Green Party.

New Zealand switched to a mixed member proportional system in 1996 in which a party or coalition needs 61 of Parliament's 120 seats - usually about 48% of the vote - to form a government.

Of Ardern's current coalition partners, the nationalist New Zealand First Party had 2.6% and the Green Party 7.6%.

"There's no doubt the strong, great leadership we've had from Jacinda Ardern has been a massive factor in all this", she told NZ.

Ardern has dubbed the vote "the Covid election" and campaigned on her government's success in eliminating community transmission of the virus, which has caused just 25 deaths in a population of five million. Another theme has been "sticking together in uncertain times", highlighting the charismatic 40-year-old's leadership qualities, not just during the pandemic but in a series of crises during her three years in office.

The prime minister won global acclaim for her handling of a mass shooting a year ago by a white supremacist in Christchurch, with her inclusive "be strong, be kind" mantra and swift action to ban guns.

Ardern again found herself comforting a shocked nation when a volcanic eruption at White Island, also known as Whakaari, killed 21 people and left dozens more with horrific burns.

"To Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who I have phoned, congratulations on your result". "No matter what crisis is thrown my way, you will always be assured I will give my everything to this job, even if that means a huge sacrifice", she said this week.

Ardern has also faced criticism during her first term for failing to deliver on some key promises such as improving housing affordability and countering child poverty.

In her victory speech, she said her second-term government would govern for every New Zealander.

"I want to congratulate Jacinda Ardern and her team on an extraordinary win", she said.

New Zealand Labour Party supporters react to results.

National's deputy leader Gerry Brownlee said it was too early to concede defeat but acknowledged "the Jacinda Ardern effect" on the race.

The conservative leader, known as "Crusher" for her hardline policies when police minister in a previous government, has vowed to stay on as leader regardless of the result.

More than 1.7 million ballots had already been cast as of Friday, accounting for nearly half of the about 3.5 million New Zealanders on the electoral rolls.

The vote was originally set for September 19 but was delayed by a virus outbreak in Auckland that has now been contained.

New Zealanders also voted on Saturday in referendums to legalise euthanasia and recreational marijuana, with results to be announced on October 30.

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