Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s centre-left Labour Party won a landslide victory in New Zealand’s general election on Saturday. Voters rewarded her for a decisive response to Covid-19.
The mandate means 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.
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, Ardern could form the first single-party government under the current system.
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 27pc, the Electoral Commission said, with 77pc of ballots counted in an election that was largely a referendum on 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.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has felicitated his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern on her “impressive victory” in the country’s general elections.
The premier added that Arden’s compassionate leadership style has not only impressed the people of his own country but also “won hearts” in Pakistan.