AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) – A day after winning second term in a landside victory, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday that she saw the election result as an endorsement of her efforts. government to eradicate coronavirus and reboot the economy.
Speaking at a cafe near his home in Auckland, Ardern said he hopes to form a new government within three weeks and prioritize the task of responding to the virus.
“We’re so fast at cracking the work we have to do as a new team,” Ardern said.
His comments came as health officials reported a new community delivery case after New Zealand went three weeks without a new infection. Officials said the man was working on foreign ships at the ports, and they believed they had caught his case long enough to prevent the threat of further spread.
In the election, Ardern’s liberal Labor Party garnered 49% of the vote, crushing the conservative National Party, which garnered 27%. Ardern said the margin of success exceeded their expectations.
The result will give Labor an explicit majority in Parliament, the first time any party has achieved that since New Zealand implemented a proportional voting system 24 years ago. Usually the parties have formed alliances to govern but at this time Labor can do it alone.
Asked what he would say to Americans who might be inspired by his victory before the U.S. election, Ardern said he hopes people around the world can move to division divisions that are often emphasized by election.
“That could harm democracy, regardless of which side of the House you are sitting in,”; he said.
Ardern’s popularity rose to prominence earlier this year after he spearheaded a successful effort to stop the spread of the virus by implementing a tight lockdown in late March. New Zealand has had less than 2,000 cases of the virus including 25 deaths.
Ardern, 40, won the highest job in the 2017 election. The following year, he became the only world leader to give birth while in office. In 2019, he was praised for his compassionate response to a massacre at two mosques in Christchurch where a gunman killed 51 Muslim worshipers.
Arden said he was congratulated on his victory by a number of world leaders, including those from Britain, Denmark, Canada and Spain. Asked if he plans to run again in the next election, Ardern laughed.
“I just ran into 2020. I haven’t finished a weekend yet,” he said. “I’m enjoying the moment.”