New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, broad winner in parliamentary elections

“Kudos to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whom I called, because these are, I believe, extraordinary results for the Labor Party”, said Judith Collins, leader of the National Party (NP, center-right opposition). Even before the final general election results, the leader of the conservative opposition publicly conceded defeat.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a large victory in the parliamentary elections on Saturday, October 17, with her Labor Party (NZLP) on the verge of winning an absolute majority in Parliament. Now re-elected, Mme Ardern claims to have a mandate to accelerate reforms:

“Thank you to all those people who gave us their voice, who trusted us to continue to drive the relaunch of New Zealand. “

While 95% of the ballots had been counted, Labor led with 49% of the vote, which it was projected would allow it to control 64 of Parliament’s 120 seats. Never has a New Zealand party achieved an absolute majority since the reform of the electoral system in 1996.

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The NP of Mme Collins was credited with only 27% of the vote, a score that would give him only 35 seats in Parliament, his worst result since 2002. On the other hand, it would be for Labor the best electoral result since 1946, which exceeds the forecasts from pollsters.

The leader of the NZLP, Claire Szabo, praised the campaign of the charismatic Prime Minister, which had already benefited in 2017 from an extraordinary wave of sympathy, nicknamed “Jacindamania”, which had enabled her to conquer power against any expectation. “There is no doubt that the very strong leadership of Jacinda Ardern is one of the main reasons for all of this”, she said on a New Zealand public broadcaster.

In power since 2017, Ardern, who turned 40 this summer, dubbed the poll the “Covid elections”, focusing his campaign on his very strong record in the fight against the epidemic. New Zealand, with a population of 5 million, has recorded 25 deaths from SARS-CoV-2 and the government’s strategy has been hailed by the World Health Organization.

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“Who is most qualified to keep New Zealanders safe and (…) put us on the road to recovery? “, had questioned the Labor leader during her campaign. Jacinda Ardern has also repeatedly emphasized the need to “Stick together in uncertain times”, a way of remembering that the second half of his mandate was marked by a succession of unprecedented crises in the archipelago.

A leader forged by crises

The Prime Minister’s strength of character was particularly tested in March 2019 during the worst terrorist attack in New Zealand history, when a white supremacist coldly slaughtered 51 worshipers in two mosques in Christchurch (South). She was then impressed by her attitude, her compassion towards the victims and her very strong political reaction, especially on the issue of gun control and on the need to push social networks to crack down on the spread of speeches. of hate.

This tragedy was followed by a volcanic eruption which killed 21 people in December and, this year, the pandemic. “No matter what crisis I am going through, you will always have the confidence that I will give everything I have (…), even if it involves a huge sacrifice ”, she said this week.

On the domestic policy front, the Labor leader had seen her social reforms in terms of access to housing or the reduction of child poverty slowed down by blockades operated by one of her coalition partners, the populist movement New Zealand First of Winston Peters.

Green co-leader Marama Davidson, who was also from the outgoing coalition, said the prime minister had a clear mandate to implement the change. “These results show how much New Zealanders want a strong and genuinely progressive government”, did she say.

The World with AFP

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