The prime minister’s popularity is paying off: Jacinda Ardern and her Social Democrats won the parliamentary elections in New Zealand an absolute majority.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Labor Party won a historic victory in the Pacific nation’s parliamentary election. The center-left party won 64 of the 120 seats in the vote and can thus rule alone in the future. This has never happened in New Zealand since the current electoral law was introduced in 1996.
The 40-year-old Ardern, who has been in office since 2017, is currently still head of a coalition government. She came into the media focus around the world because after her surprising election victory as the first incumbent head of government in decades, she gave birth to a child. Because of her empathic nature and her successful crisis management, the politician quickly made a name for herself internationally. Now she managed to expand her power base.
Jacinda Ardern spreads optimism by choice
The New Zealand Herald newspaper spoke of a “historic night” with almost 50 percent of the vote for Labor. The next few years would not be easy, said Ardern on Saturday with a view to the corona pandemic and its consequences. But her government wanted to spread hope and optimism, she said, beaming in front of cheering supporters. “We’ll get started with it tomorrow!”
This was not a normal choice, said Ardern, who presented herself entirely in the party color red. “And these are not normal times.” But they still strive for “positive” governance. “It is a privilege to work for the people of New Zealand and to be their head of government.”
Now Ardern can do without right-wing small party
So far, Ardern has ruled a coalition of Labor, the Greens and the small populist New Zealand First party, which is known for its anti-immigrant positions. Three years ago the small party had tipped the scales and surprisingly helped Ardern into office. Now she clearly lost. The Green Party, on the other hand, grew. A commentator on New Zealand television spoke of a “considerable left slide”.
The conservative National Party with its top candidate Judith Collins (61), however, crashed and won only 35 seats. The party had ruled continuously from 2008 to 2017. Ardern was already the favorite in the polls leading up to the vote. Collins congratulated her opponent on the “outstanding result”.
New Zealand got off lightly from the pandemic
Ardern has gained a lot of recognition abroad for her handling of the Christchurch attacks, in which a right-wing extremist from Australia shot 51 Muslims in two mosques last year, and for her successful fight against the corona pandemic.
So far, the island state has come through the pandemic very lightly and recently declared for the second time that it had the virus under control. So far, only 25 people have died in connection with Covid-19 in New Zealand. In the meantime, the country has largely returned to normal.
The 3.7 million eligible voters also voted in two referendums on the legalization of cannabis as a recreational drug and the legalization of euthanasia. The results of these referendums should not be published until the end of October.