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

Elias Hubbard
October 17, 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Labour party have surged to a huge victory in New Zealand's general election.

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.

"This has not been an ordinary election, and it's not an ordinary time", she said. "It's been full of uncertainty and anxiety and we set out to be an antidote for that".

"National will re-emerge from this loss a stronger, disciplined and more connected party", she said.

"The last seven months of this government - all of the issues around their past promises have been put aside because of COVID-19", Brownlee told Radio New Zealand.

Doors to the polling booths opened at 9:00am, though a record number of voters had already cast their ballots in advance. Her successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated those strengths, drowning out criticism that she hasn't delivered on some key promises during her first term in office.

New Zealand, with a population of 5 million, now has no community cases of COVID-19 and is among only a few nations where people are not required to wear masks or follow social distancing. The 40-year-old Ardern's calm and empathetic leadership, meanwhile, has been widely praised at a time New Zealanders were looking for reassurance. Foreign fans often compare her favorably to Donald Trump, saying the Kiwi prime minister is antithetical to everything they dislike about the USA president.

She displayed both empathy and decisive action on gun control after a white supremacist gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers in the Christchurch mosques attack past year.

She moved quickly to pass new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.

The country went without any new cases for 102 days until August, when a small outbreak in the largest city Auckland resulted in rules being reimposed.

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.

With New Zealand having the advantage of being an isolated island nation, the strategy worked.

Ms Ardern swiftly imposed a second lockdown in Auckland and the new outbreak faded away.

Judith Collins, the combative leader of the centre-right National Party, has focused on the spectre of the Greens forcing Ardern to adopt a wealth tax aimed at the aspirational middle class.

National Party leader Judith Collins has addressed supporters in Auckland in the wake of a devastating election result.

Collins promised that the party would be back to fight another day.

Of Labour's current coalition partners, the nationalist New Zealand First Party had 2.3 per cent and the Green Party 8.3 per cent. The Greens had 7.6% of the vote.

"People were very grateful and very happy with how we've handled COVID, they like the shape of the plan that we've got going forward from here for the economy", said Finance Minister Grant Robertson, a top Labour MP. "It's a tremendous accolade first and foremost to the prime minister, but also to the wider Labour team and the Labour movement", he said. Two referendums were also held alongside the election on whether cannabis and euthanasia should be legalized.

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

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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