The Daily Telegraph

Ardern succumbs to pressure and pushes back New Zealand election

- By Jamie Johnson

NEW ZEALAND’S general election has been delayed by a month after an abrupt reappearan­ce of Covid-19 in the country, Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, announced last night.

In a statement broadcast to the nation, Ms Arden said the vote would now take place on Oct 17, adding: “This decision gives all parties time over the next nine weeks to campaign and the Electoral Commission enough time to ensure an election can go ahead.”

The vote was due to take place on Sept 19, but last week’s resurgence of coronaviru­s cases in Auckland – after the country had been free of infections for 102 days – put pressure on Ms Arden to postpone the vote. Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First party said that the virus would compromise the ability to hold a “free and fair election” in September.

Yesterday, New Zealand recorded 13 infections, bringing the number of active cases to 69. Ms Ardern put Auckland, the country’s largest city with a population of 1.7 million, under a twoweek lockdown last week.

The opposition National Party also wanted a delay, hoping that Ardern, who had garnered much praise for crushing the pandemic, might lose some of her lustre once hardships caused by the lockdown begin to bite.

“The prime minister has proactivel­y sought the views of the leaders of every political party represente­d in parliament this afternoon about the election date,” said a representa­tive for Ms Ardern. “A range of views has been expressed that the prime minister has taken on board.”

The source of the recent outbreak remains under investigat­ion.

Mr Peters said that “the border remains the likely source of the outbreak”, suggesting a breach in quarantine procedures of people returning from abroad.

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