New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has won a second term after her success at handling the country’s coronavirus outbreak helped secure a landslide victory. With 87% of the votes counted, Ardern’s center-left Labour Party has won 48.9% of the vote, meaning her party looks likely to score the highest result that any party has achieved since the current political system was introduced in 1996.
“Tonight, New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in at least 50 years,” Ardern said in a powerful victory speech on Saturday night where she referred to the difficult times ahead for New Zealand. “And I can promise you: we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander.”
Coalitions are the norm in New Zealand, where no single party has ever won a majority of votes under the current system. Labour’s main opposition, the center-right National Party, is on 27% — down on last election’s 44% and likely to be the party’s worst result since 2002. National leader Judith Collins said she called Ardern to concede defeat and congratulate Ardern on an “outstanding result” for the Labour Party. Results are still being counted. Final results will be released in three weeks once special votes — including those cast by New Zealanders living overseas — are counted.
New Zealand Election Results
The preliminary count also shows a major swing to the left, with Labour picking up a significant boost on last election’s 37%, while its current coalition partner the Green Party is sitting on 7.6%, up on last election’s 6.3%.
Labour has been hovering around 50% of the vote for much of election night. It likely won’t be clear until the final results are in whether Labour can govern alone or will need to form a coalition with the Greens, but ahead of the election, Victoria University politics lecturer Claire Timperley said Labour would be “foolish” not to have a conversation with the Greens about working together, even if Labour won an outright majority.
Labour’s other current coalition partner New Zealand First has not secured enough votes to make it back into parliament, while the right-wing ACT party is currently on 8%, up on last election’s 0.5%.Ardern’s likely reelection was buoyed by her “go hard and go early” approach to handling the coronavirus which has helped New Zealand avoid the kind of devastating outbreaks seen elsewhere. The country was one of the first to close its borders, and Ardern announced a nationwide lockdown in March when it only had 102 cases. New Zealand has reported less than 2,000 total cases and 25 deaths since the pandemic began.
Earlier this Year
At the start of the year, polls suggested National and Labour could be in for a tight election. Ardern had huge international popularity, but back home some were disappointed by her lack of progress on key promises, including on addressing the overheated housing market.But that all changed during the pandemic. Support for Ardern soared, even as New Zealand posted its largest quarterly economic decline on record and a second outbreak in the country’s largest city, Auckland, prompted the PM to delay the election by a month.National’s Collins — the party’s third leader this year — pitched her pro-business party as better placed to handle the pandemic’s economic fallout, but struggled to gain ground against one of New Zealand’s most popular leaders ever.”We always knew it was going to be tough, didn’t we?” Collins said during her concession speech on Saturday. “We will take time to reflect, and we will review, and we will change. National will reemerge from this loss a stronger, more disciplined and more connected party. “I say to everybody: we will be back.”
Watch as Jacinda Adern delivers her victory speech