Auckland, New Zealand – Incumbent New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won her second term on Saturday as a result of a historic landslide election seen by many as approval of her work with the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking before the victory of hundreds of supporters in Auckland, 40-year-old Ardern said her party had received more support from New Zealanders than at any time in at least 50 years.
“It was not an ordinary election, and it is not an ordinary time,” she said. “It was full of uncertainty and anxiety, and we sought to be the antidote to it.”;
With a majority of the votes counted, the liberal Labor Party of Arderna received 49 percent of the vote against 27 percent of the main contender, the Conservative National Party.
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Labor aimed to win an absolute majority of seats in parliament, which has not happened since New Zealand introduced proportional voting 24 years ago. As a rule, parties must form alliances for governance, but this time Ardern and Labor can go on their own.
Ardern promised not to take her new supporters for granted and to lead all New Zealanders.
“We live in an increasingly polarized world, a place where more and more people are losing the ability to see each other’s points of view,” she said. “I think in this election, New Zealanders have shown that we are not who we are.”
Two weeks before the election, a record number of voters voted early.
On the campaign trail, Arderna was greeted like a rock star by people who crashed into malls and poured into the streets to cheer her up and take selfies with her.
Its popularity grew earlier this year after successful efforts to combat the coronavirus.
Currently, in a country of 5 million, there is no spread of the virus in the community, and people are no longer required to wear masks or social distance.
Ardern won the top post after the 2017 election, when Labor formed an alliance with two other parties. The following year, she became only the second world leader to have a child while in office.
In doing so, she has become a role model for working mothers around the world, many of whom see her as a counterpoint to President Donald Trump. She was also praised for coping with last year’s attack on two Christchurch mosques, when a white Suprematist shot down 51 Muslim supporters.
After that, it quickly moved on to new laws banning deadly types of semi-automatic weapons.
At the end of March this year, when only about 100 people passed the COVID-19 test, Ardern and her health officials put New Zealand under a strict blockade with the slogan “Go hard and go earlier.”
She closed the borders and outlined an ambitious goal to completely eradicate the virus, not just try to control its spread. Because New Zealand preferred to be an isolated island nation, the strategy worked.
The country liquidated the community transfer 102 days before a new cluster was discovered in Auckland in August. Ardern quickly imposed a second lock in Auckland, and the new outbreak disappeared. The only new cases that have recently been identified have been returning quarantined trips.
The Auckland outbreak also prompted Ardern to postpone the election for a month and helped increase early voter turnout.
The leader of the National Party, Judith Collins, a former lawyer who served as a minister when the National was in power, is proud of her rude, senseless approach, in contrast to Ardern’s empathetic style.
In a speech to her supporters in Auckland, Collins said she called Arderna to greet her.
“This is an outstanding result for the Labor Party,” Collins said. “It was a tough campaign.”
Collins promised that the party would return to the fight one more day.