Jacinda Ardern and her govt soar in popularity during coronavirus crisis
Wellington: New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, reached an almost recordbreaking approval rating while the country was in its strictest lockdown, according to a new leaked poll.
The poll, which was conducted by UMR and leaked to the New Zealand Herald, shows that Ardern’s Labour party has reached 55 per cent approval, while the opposition National party has dropped to 29 per cent – its lowest rating in more than a decade. The Greens were on five per cent and New Zealand First – Labour’s Coalition partners – on six per cent.
Ms Ardern’s personal approval rating was 65 per cent while the opposition leader, Simon Bridges, sat on seven per cent, according to the poll. It puts the PM close to her high of 70 per cent approval in UMR polls during her term in office.
The poll also shows that 78 per cent of New Zealanders believe the country is heading in the right direction – the highest since 1991. The Herald reported that the poll was carried by UMR, for its corporate clients, but Labour paid UMR for a monthly update on the country’s political landscape.
The poll was conducted between 21 and 27
April when the country was in the toughest level of lockdown to combat the effects of COVID-19. Level-4 restrictions, which ended on 27 April, saw businesses and schools close, while New Zealanders were told to stay home for all but essential needs.
UMR said that the political numbers needed to be interpreted “extremely carefully”. “The conventional wisdom is that natural disasters (and wars) are usually good for governments but that those effects can wear off quickly,” it said.
The number of people saying New Zealand is on the right track hasn’t been this high on a UMR poll since 1991.
Simon Bridges said Labour “should be focused on getting New Zealand back to work, not leaking dodgy numbers”.
Ms Ardern has gained prominence internationally for the way the government swiftly acted to contain COVID-19 when cases first started rising in the country. There were three new cases on Friday in New Zealand, bringing the total to 1479, with 1252 of these having recovered.