Jacinda Ardern wins New Zealand in election after decisive response to COVID-19

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s centre-left Labour Party won a landslide victory in New Zealand’s general election on Saturday as voters rewarded her for a decisive response to COVID-19, reported Reuters.

The mandate means Ms. Ardern, 40, could form the first single-party government in decades, and face the challenge of delivering on the progressive transformation she promised but failed to deliver in her first term, where Labour shared power with a nationalist party.

“This is a historic shift,” said political commentator Bryce Edwards of Victoria University in Wellington, describing the vote as one of the biggest swings in New Zealand’s electoral history in 80 years.

Labour was on track to win 64 of the 120 seats in the country’s unicameral parliament, the highest by any party since New Zealand adopted a proportional voting system in 1996.

If Labour wins more than half the seats, Ms. Ardern could form the first single-party government under the current system.

Ms. Ardern came out of her home in Auckland, waved and hugged gathered supporters. Opposition National Party leader Judith Collins said she had called the prime minister to congratulate her for an “outstanding result”.

Labour had 49.0 per cent of the votes, far ahead of National at 27 per cent, the Electoral Commission said, with 77 per cent of ballots counted in an election that was largely a referendum on Ms. Ardern’s aggressive handling of COVID-19.

“People were very grateful and very happy with how we’ve handled COVID, they like the shape of the plan that we’ve got going forward from here for the economy,” said Finance Minister Grant Robertson, a top Labour MP. (Reuters)

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