With 87% of the vote counted, the center-left Labor Party of Arderna won 48.9% of the vote, which means that its party is likely to get the highest result achieved by any party since the introduction of the current political system in 1996.
“Tonight, New Zealand has shown the greatest support for the Labor Party in at least 50 years,” Ardern said in a powerful speech on Saturday night, recalling the difficult times ahead for New Zealand. “And I can promise you: we will be the party that will lead every New Zealander.”
Coalition is the norm in New Zealand, where no party has ever won a majority under the current system.
National leader Judith Collins said she called on Ardern to concede defeat and congratulated Ardern on an “outstanding result” for the Labor Party.
The results are still being counted. The final results will be made public three weeks after the special votes are counted, including those cast by New Zealanders living abroad.
The preliminary count also shows a significant left turn, when Labor gained a significant increase of 37% in the last election, while his current coalition partner, the Green Party, sits at 7.6%, and in the last election – 6.3%.
For most of election night, Labor held about 50 percent of the vote. It is unlikely to be clear until the final results are whether Labor can rule on its own or whether a coalition with the Greens will need to be formed, but Victoria Claire Timperley, a University professor of politics, said before the election that Labor would be “unreasonable”. talk to the Greens about working together, even if Labor won an absolute majority.
Another current New Zealand Labor coalition partner did not get enough votes to return to parliament, while the right-wing ACT party currently has 8%, up from 0.5% in the last election.
Ardern’s likely re-election was backed by her “go hard and go ahead” approach to fighting the coronavirus, which has helped New Zealand avoid such devastating outbreaks as elsewhere. The country was one of the first to close its borders, and Ardern announced a nationwide blockade in March, when it had only 102 cases.
Since the start of the pandemic, New Zealand has reported fewer than 2,000 cases and 25 deaths.
Earlier this year, opinion polls suggested that the National and Labor parties could be present in tough elections. Ardern was hugely popular internationally, but when she returned home, some were disappointed by her lack of progress in fulfilling key promises, including addressing the overheated housing market.
But everything changed during the pandemic. Support for Ardern has risen, even as New Zealand saw its biggest quarterly economic downturn, and a second outbreak in the country’s largest city, Auckland, forced the prime minister to postpone the election for a month.
The national newspaper Collins, the party’s third leader this year, called its pro-business party the best for fighting the economic consequences of the pandemic, but tried to win a position against one of New Zealand’s most popular leaders in history.
“We always knew it was going to be hard, didn’t we?” Collins said during her speech at the concession on Saturday. “We will find time to think, reconsider and change. The National will emerge from this loss with a stronger, more disciplined and more connected party.
“I tell everyone: we’ll be back.”
The recording comes out early
As of Friday, only a shy 2 million people – or 57% of all registered voters – had already voted in advance at polling stations across the country, including Collins and Ardern.
Lara Greaves, a professor of New Zealand policy at the University of Auckland, said the high level of pre-voting may have been due to Covid-19 – voters wanted to avoid lines and the possibility that a fresh Covid-19 outbreak could affect their ability to vote per day.
According to her, the turnout could also be facilitated by two referendums held next to the election – one on the legalization of euthanasia, and the other on the legalization of recreational use of cannabis. Preliminary results will be released later this month.
What to expect from Ardern’s second term
When Ardern became prime minister in 2017 at the age of 37, she was New Zealand’s third female leader and one of the youngest leaders in the world. Within a year, she gave birth to her position – this is only the second world leader to ever do so.
She was also praised for her empathic resolution of major crises. After a terrorist attack in 2019 on two mosques in Christchurch, which killed 51 people, she introduced rapid changes to the gun law and wore the hijab, meeting with the local Muslim community.
After an active volcanic island, frequented by tourists, erupted in December last year, White Island killed 21 people, and Ardern quickly found himself on the ground again, hugging the first responders.
But while she has vowed to lead a “transformation” government, her critics say she has not done enough to address inequality, child poverty, climate change and the housing market.
Ardern seems to be facing another difficult deadline as she tries to address these issues by managing the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. But political analysts do not expect a blatant flagship policy – instead, they predict that Ardern will continue to make gradual changes.
“Real change requires steps that attract people to us,” Ardern said at the final debate in the country on Thursday. “I keep my record … I’m not done yet.”