Landslide win for Ardern in New Zealand’s ‘Covid election’
New Zealanders yesterday handed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party a rare landslide win in what is seen as an endorsement of her handling of the coronavirus pandemic and other national crises.
Ms Ardern’s centre- left party took 64 seats in the 120- member parliament with 49 per cent of the vote in what she had described as the “Covid election”.
“Thank you to the many people who gave us their vote, who trusted us to continue leading New Zealand’s recovery,” the 40- year- old prime minister told cheering supporters.
It was the first time any leader won an absolute majority since New Zealand adopted a proportional voting system in 1996.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a second term in office on a landslide vote in New Zealand’s general election yesterday.
The mandate meant that Ms Ardern, 40, could form New Zealand’s first single- party government in decades and work on the progressive manifesto she promised but failed to deliver in her first term, where Labour shared power with a nationalist party.
Ms Ardern said the landslide vote gave her party a mandate to accelerate her government’s response and recovery plans for the coronavirus.
“We are living in an increasingly polarised world, a place where more people have lost the ability to see one another’s point of view. I think in this election, New Zealanders have shown that this is not who we are,” she said. “Elections aren’t always great at bringing people together, but they also don’t need to tear one another apart.”
The result, the best for Labour in decades, represented a historic shift, according to political commentator Bryce Edwards of Victoria University in Wellington.
He described the vote as one of the biggest swings in 80 years.
Labour was on track to win 64 of the 120 seats in the country’s unicameral parliament, the highest by any party since New Zealand adopted a proportional voting system in 1996.
If Labour wins more than half the seats, Ms Ardern could form the first single-party government under the current system.
Ms Ardern came out of her home in Auckland, waved and hugged supporters.
Geoffrey Miller, an analyst at political website Democracy Project, said the victory was “very much a personal triumph for Jacinda Ardern’s ‘ superstar’ popularity and brand”.
Of Labour’s current coalition partners, the nationalist New Zealand First Party had 2.6 per cent and the Green Party 7.6 per cent.
If Ms Ardern is unable to form a Labour-only government, she was expected to continue to rely on the minor Greens while jettisoning New Zealand First.
A Labour- Green coalition would be the first fully left-leaning government since the 1970s, a scenario that the opposition National Party’s Judith Collins claimed would mean more taxes and an environment hostile to business.
Ms Ardern has pledged to raise taxes on New Zealand’s highest earners, while Ms Collins promised short-term tax cuts, but they have otherwise shown few major differences on policy.
The prime minister won global acclaim for her handling of a mass shooting last year by a white supremacist in Christchurch, with her inclusive “be strong, be kind” mantra and swift ban on guns.
New Zealanders also voted yesterday in referendums to legalise euthanasia and recreational marijuana, with results to be announced on October 30.
The latter vote could make New Zealand the third country in the world to allow the adult use and sale of cannabis nationwide, after Uruguay and Canada.
One political analyst said the vote in favour of Labour was also a vote in favour of the Jacinda Ardern brand of politics