Auckland, New Zealand – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a second term on Saturday in an election landslide of historic proportions.
With the most votes counted, Ardern’s Liberal Labor Party won 49% of the vote, compared to 27% for its main candidate, the Conservative National Party.
The Labor Party aimed to win an absolute majority of seats in parliament, something that has not happened since New Zealand introduced a proportional voting system 24 years ago. Parties usually have to form governing alliances, but this time Ardern and Labor can handle it on their own.
Speaking in victory to hundreds of welcoming supporters in Auckland, Ardern said her party had received more support from New Zealanders than at any time in at least 50 years.
“These are not ordinary elections and it is not an ordinary time,”
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Ardern promised not to take his new supporters for granted and to rule 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 point of view,” she said. “I think in this election, New Zealanders have shown that this is not us.”
A record number of voters voted early in the two weeks before the election.
Along the way, Ardern was greeted like a rock star by people crowding malls and spilling into the streets to cheer her up and take selfies with her.
Her popularity rose earlier this year after she led a successful effort to eradicate the coronavirus. There is currently no spread of the virus in the community of 5 million people, and people are no longer required to wear masks or social distance.
Ardern, 40, won the best job since the 2017 election, when Labor formed an alliance with two other parties. The following year, she became only the second world leader to give birth while in office.
She has become a role model for working mothers around the world, many of whom see her as a counterpoint to President Donald Trump. And she was praised for dealing with last year’s attack on two mosques in Christchurch, when a white supreme authority shot dead 51 Muslim worshipers.
It has moved quickly to pass new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.
At the end of March this year, when only about 100 people tested positive for COVID-19, Ardern and its health officials placed New Zealand in strict lock with the motto “Go strong and go earlier”. She closed the borders and set an ambitious goal to eliminate the virus completely, not just try to control its spread.
As New Zealand had the advantage of being an isolated island nation, the strategy worked. The country removed the broadcast from the community for 102 days before a new cluster was opened in Auckland in August. Ardern quickly imposed a second lock in Auckland, and the new outbreak disappeared. The only new cases recently discovered are among returning passengers who are in quarantine.
The fire in Auckland also prompted Ardern to postpone the election for a month and helped increase early turnout.
National Party leader Judith Collins is a former lawyer. She served as a minister when Nacional was in power and boasts an outspoken, pointless approach, a contrast to Ardern’s empathetic style. Collins, 61, promised wide tax cuts in response to the economic downturn caused by the virus.
In a speech to her supporters in Auckland, Collins said she called Ardern 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 fight another day.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and his small New Zealand First Party also voted in the election. The libertarian party ACT increased its support to 8%, and the Green Party won 7.5% of the vote.
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Labor Secretary David Parker said it was a convincing victory for his party. “This is a huge recognition, first and foremost for the prime minister, but also for the wider Labor team and the Labor movement,” he said.
In the election, voters also had an opinion on two controversial social issues – whether to legalize marijuana and euthanasia. Polls conducted before the election show that a possible referendum is likely to pass, while the results of the marijuana vote remain uncertain. The results of the two referendums will be announced on October 30th.