Incumbent Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern has secured her second term in office after the Labour Party swept Saturday’s (October 17) general election by a landslide.
According to preliminary results, with around 49 per cent of eligible votes, the liberal Labour Party was miles of ahead of the conservative National Party, which had roughly 27 per cent.
The Labour Party is further poised to claim an outright majority in New Zealand’s Parliament—a prospect not seen in the country since the current voting system was implemented 24 years ago. Unlike the last time, when she was sworn in as prime minister, needing a coalition to govern, Ardern and the Labour Party are more emboldened to go it alone.
As hundreds celebrated in the capital Auckland, Ardern said that as more citizens have placed their support in the party than at any other period in the last 50 years, she is aware that the demands will be even greater.
“This has not been an ordinary election, and it’s not an ordinary time,” she said. “It’s been full of uncertainty and anxiety, and we set out to be an antidote to that.”
“We are living in an increasingly polarised world, a place where, more and more, people have lost the ability to see one another’s point of view,” Ardern continued.
“I think in this election, New Zealanders have shown that this is not who we are,” she asserted, promising not to take new supporters for granted and to govern in the interest of all New Zealanders.
Her popularity soared earlier this year after she led a successful effort to stamp out the coronavirus (COVID-19). There is currently no community spread of the virus among the country’s 5+ million population, and people are no longer required to wear masks or social distance.
Ardern, 40, won the top job after the 2017 election when Labour formed an alliance with two other parties.
In late March this year, when only about 100 people had tested positive for COVID-19, Ardern and her health officials put New Zealand into a strict lockdown.
Borders were shuttered as she detailed an ambitious target to eliminate the virus entirely rather than trying to curb its spread.
Having the advantage of being an isolated island nation, the strategy worked exceedingly well for Ardern’s New Zealand. The country eliminated community transmission for 102 days before a new cluster was discovered in August in Auckland. Ardern swiftly imposed a second lockdown in Auckland and the new outbreak faded away.
With less than a 2,000-patient caseload, the only new COVID cases found recently have been among returning travellers, who are in quarantine.