WELLINGTON – Jacinda Ardern secured a second term as Prime Minister of New Zealand after her success in controlling the coronavirus outbreak in the country helped secure a resounding victory.
Preliminary results indicate that 49 percent of the vote has been won by Ardern’s center-left Labour Party, meaning her party is likely to score the highest result that any party has obtained since the launch of the new political structure in 1996.
The result means the 64 out of 120 parliamentary seats are expected to be held by her party, making it the first party to be able to govern under the current system alone.
In New Zealand, where no single party has gained a majority of votes in the last 24 years, coalitions are the rule.
The largest opposition of Labour, the center-right National Party, won nearly 27 percent of the vote, giving it 35 seats, down 44 percent from the last election, and the worst showing of the party since 2002.
“Judith Collins, the national leader, said she called Ardern to concede defeat and congratulate her on the Labour Party’s” outstanding outcome.
In three weeks, the New Zealand election results will be published after special votes, including those cast by New Zealanders living abroad, are counted.
The final allocation of seats in parliament may be influenced by these findings. The preliminary count also indicates a major swing to the left, with Labour picking up a significant boost on the 37 percent the last election, while the Green Party’s new coalition partner gained 8 percent or 10 seats up on the 6 percent the last election.
New Zealand First, Labour’s other current coalition partner, has not received enough votes to return it to parliament, although the right-wing ACT party gained 10 seats with 8% of the vote, up from 0.5% in the last election.
Since the pandemic started, New Zealand has recorded less than 2,000 overall cases and 25 deaths.
Speaking to supporters at Auckland town hall minutes later, Ardern thanked the nation for the strong mandate. She said elections “don’t have to be divisive” and promised to govern with positivity.
“I cannot imagine a people I would feel more privileged to work on behalf of, to work alongside and to be prime minister for,” she said to cheers.
“Tonight’s result does give Labour a very strong and a very clear mandate.”