In New Zealand, historic victory for Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern celebrates her victory at Labor Party election night in Auckland on October 17.

She cultivates an image that is chosen in the midst of the fray, close to the people and endowed with a strong sense of self-deprecation. Yet Jacinda Ardern is not quite a leader like the others. After becoming the youngest “Kiwi” prime minister in 160 years (in October 2017), the second head of government in the world to have had a child during her tenure (in June 2018), the New Zealand leader la more popular in a century (May 2020), it has just led the center-left to an electoral victory of unprecedented magnitude.

After parliamentary elections on Saturday (October 17th), the Labor Party won 49% of the vote, its highest score in at least fifty years, according to provisional results. When all the ballots have been counted in early November, Jacinda Ardern will be the first official, since the adoption of the current electoral system in 1996, to be able to lead the country without having to form a coalition to have a parliamentary majority.

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“This is our opportunity to build an economy that works for all, to continue to create decent jobs (…) to fight against poverty and inequalities, to turn these times of difficulty and uncertainty into sources of hope and optimism “Said the 40-year-old young woman on Saturday night in front of her cheering supporters.

Opposite, the elected representatives of the National Party, credited with only 27% of the votes, evoked an evening “Gloomy” for the right. “We will take the time to think, analyze and we will change”, Promised candidate Judith Collins, appointed to head a divided squad just three months before the poll.

“Communicating qualities”

“She failed to present a credible alternative. His campaign lacked coherence and a strong political line », Analyzes Lara Greaves, political scientist at the University of Auckland. Anchored very to the right, nicknamed the “Crusher” after her stint at the police ministry in 2008, the conservative official also failed to win over voters who, for three years, overwhelmingly subscribed to the message of benevolence and unity advocated by the head of government.

“The Prime Minister succeeded in making this election an election centered on Covid-19. Yet New Zealanders trust him to manage crisis situations. She is very effective at analyzing the facts, making the right decisions, even if they are difficult, then winning the support of the population thanks to her communication skills “, says Lara Greaves. Faced with the pandemic, it quickly closed the country’s borders and opted for severe containment from the start of community transmission. In early May, the virus stopped circulating in the archipelago. In August, a second low amplitude wave was quickly brought under control.

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