Saturday, 31 October, 2020

Jacinda Ardern seeks second term as polls close in New Zealand

Above New Zealand opposition leader Judith Collins congratulated Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on an PM Ardern on track for landslide re-election win in New Zealand vote
Deanna Wagner | 17 October, 2020, 15:24

Jacinda Ardern's performance beat pre-election opinion polls.

Labour's landslide victory in the 2020 New Zealand election has been reported around the world, with major outlets praising Jacinda Ardern and Labour for the win and politicians and members of the public rushing to congratulate her and make plans to move to New Zealand.

With a quarter of the vote still to be counted, Labour has 49 percent of the vote and its ally the Green Party has 7.6 percent, with Collins' National Party holding 27 percent.

Labour was on target to win an outright majority of the seats in Parliament, something that hasn't happened since New Zealand implemented a proportional voting system 24 years ago.

Opposition leader Judith Collins' centre-right National Party was on 26.0 percent, or 34 seats, and appears headed for its worst result in almost 20 years.

"To Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who I have phoned, congratulations on your result". "It has been a tough campaign".

The Daily Mail Australia called the New Zealand election result very early.

Ardern later addressed her supporters from a stage at party headquarters, opening her speech in Maori before switching to English.

On the campaign trail, Ardern was greeted like a rock star by people who crammed into malls and spilled onto streets to cheer her on and get selfies with her.

"New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in nearly 50 years", Ardern told supporters after the result became clear.

The pandemic is just one of a string of crises that showed Ardern's leadership qualities during a torrid first term.

New Zealand's opposition leader Judith Collins has vowed to stay on as leader regardless of the result
New Zealand's opposition leader Judith Collins has vowed to stay on as leader regardless of the result

The prime minister won global acclaim for her handling of a mass shooting past year 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. "We will build back better from the Covid crisis".

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.

Addressing supporters, the prime minister said: "We will govern for every New Zealander".

"The results show how much New Zealanders want a strong, truly progressive government".

Collins focused on the spectre of the Greens forcing Ardern to adopt a wealth tax aimed at the aspirational middle class. But her attacks failed to find traction and the party looks set to fall well short of the 44.5 percent it recorded at the last election in 2017.

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 a million people had already voted in early polling which opened up on 3 October.

She burnished that reputation this year with a "go hard, go early" approach to the new coronavirus, which has eliminated locally spread COVID-19 in the nation.

The party is set to lose 25 MPs, dropping down to a caucus of just 31, with no obvious successor to Judith Collins after the retirement of many senior colleagues and the failures of the leaders who came before her.

Aside from choosing their preferred candidate and party, New Zealanders were also asked to vote in two referendums: the end of life choice on euthanasia and cannabis legalisation.

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