Published: Sun, October 18, 2020

‘Impressive victory: PM Imran Khan congratulates New Zealands Jacinda Ardern

‘Impressive victory: PM Imran Khan congratulates New Zealands Jacinda Ardern

In her victory speech, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the result gave Labour "the mandate to accelerate our [COVID-19] response and our recovery". National has 35, the Green Party ten, ACT ten and the Māori Party is expected to return to parliament with one seat.

Her Labour Party's 49.1 percent of the vote was its best election performance since 1946, while National's 26.8 was the second-worst since the party was founded in 1936.

Opposition leader Judith Collins said Ardern's election success meant she could no longer blame coalition partners for frustrating her progressive agenda because she now had a free hand to do as she pleased.

The result will give Labour an outright majority in Parliament, the first time any party has achieved that since New Zealand implemented a proportional voting system 24 years ago.

Geoffrey Miller, analyst at political website Democracy Project, said the victory was "very much a personal triumph for Jacinda Ardern's "superstar" popularity and brand".

New Zealand-based journalist Samantha Early told DW that Ardern had promised Labour would not take new supporters for granted. A day before the election, nearly 2 million people had already cast their vote, representing more than 60% of the total number of votes cast in the 2017 general election. There is now no community spread of the virus in the nation of 5 million and people are no longer required to wear masks or social distance.

Ardern's government has also passed landmark climate legislation that commits the nation to reduce its carbon emissions to zero over the next 30 years, and it drew applause from US gun control advocates when it responded to the March 15, 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre by banning assault weapons just six days later.

The result was a clear endorsement of the Ardern government's handling of COVID-19, which resulted in the country of 5 million imposing some of the world's strongest lockdown measures from late March. She served as a minister when National was in power and prides herself on a blunt, no-nonsense approach, a contrast to Ardern's empathetic style.

Ardern has pledged to raise taxes on top earners, while Collins promised short-term tax cuts, but they have otherwise shown few major differences on policy.

In a speech to her supporters in Auckland, Collins said she'd called Ardern to congratulate her.

Ardern declined to talk in a later television interview about any plans for working with the left-wing Green Party, which supported Labour in the previous term, until more results were in. "It has been a tough campaign". The libertarian ACT Party increased its support to 8% and the Green Party won 7.5% of the votes.

"Having come in with a very large caucus into opposition, with 44 percent of the party vote and against the Labour Party that had 37, but not being in government, you can actually start to think that, you know, there's some complacency that can set in". "It's a tremendous accolade first and foremost to the prime minister, but also to the wider Labour team and the Labour movement", he said. Polls indicate the euthanasia referendum is likely to pass while the marijuana vote remains close.

Referendum votes will be counted after election day and preliminary results will be released on October 30.

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