AUCKLAND, New Zealand – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a second term in office on Saturday in a landslide election of historical proportions.
In terms of the number of votes counted, Ardern’s liberal Labor Party won 49% of the vote compared to 27% for its main challenge, the conservative National Party.
Labor targets to win an explicit majority of parliamentary seats, something that has not happened since New Zealand implemented a proportional voting system 24 years ago. Usually, the parties have to form alliances to govern, but this time Ardern and Labor can go here.
In a victory speech in front of hundreds of cheering supporters in Auckland, Ardern said his party has garnered more support from New Zealanders at any time for 50 years.
“It was not an ordinary election, and it was not an ordinary time,”; he said. “It’s full of uncertainty and anxiety, and we set out to be a counter to that.”
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Ardern vowed not to get his new supporters to give permission and lead for all New Zealanders.
“We live in an increasingly polarized world, a place where, more and more, people have lost the ability to see each other’s point of view,” he said. “I think in this election, New Zealanders have shown that it is not us.”
A record number of voters cast early ballots two weeks before the election.
On the campaign trail, Ardern was greeted like a rock star by people who crammed into malls and poured into the streets to entertain him and take selfies with him.
His popularity rose to prominence earlier this year after he spearheaded a successful effort to eradicate coronavirus. Currently there is no viral community in the country of 5 million and people no longer have to wear masks or social distance.
Ardern, 40, won top jobs after the 2017 election when Labor formed an alliance with two other parties. The following year, he became the only world leader to give birth while in office.
She has been a role model for working mothers around the world, many of whom have seen her as a counterpoint to President Donald Trump. And he was praised for his handling of last year’s attack on two mosques in Christchurch, when a white supremacist shot 51 Muslim worshipers.
He was quick to move to pass new laws banning the most deadly types of semi-automatic weapons.
In late March of this year, when only about 100 people tested positive for COVID-19, Ardern and his health officials placed New Zealand in a tight lockdown with the motto “Work hard and go early.” . ” He closed the boundaries and outlined an ambitious goal to eliminate the virus completely rather than just try to control its spread.
With New Zealand having the advantage of being an isolated island nation, the strategy worked. The country canceled community deliveries within 102 days before a new cluster was discovered in August in Auckland. Ardern quickly imposed a second lockdown on Auckland and the new outbreak was gone. The only new cases found recently are among the returning travelers, who are in quarantine.
The Auckland outbreak also prompted Ardern to postpone the election to a month and helped increase early voter turnout.
The leader of the National Party, Judith Collins, is a former lawyer. He served as a minister when National was in power and boasted himself of a thoughtless, nonsensical approach, a contrast to Ardern’s style of empathy. Collins, 61, promises a massive tax cut in response to the economic downturn caused by the virus.
In a speech to his Auckland supporters, Collins said he called Ardern to greet him.
“This is an outstanding result for the Labor Party,” Collins said. “It has been a tough campaign.”
Collins promised the party would return to fight someday.
The election also saw Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and his small New Zealand First party vote. The libertarian ACT Party increased its support to 8% and the Green Party won 7.5% of the vote.
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Labor Minister David Parker said it was a landslide win for his party. “This is a huge accolade first and foremost to the prime minister, but also to the wider Labor team and the Labor movement,” he said.
In the election, voters also raised two unspeakable social issues – whether to make marijuana and euthanasia legal. Polls taken before the election indicate that the euthanasia referendum is likely to pass while the outcome of the marijuana vote remains uncertain. The results of the same referendum will be announced October 30.