PM Ardern on track for big re-election win in New Zealand election

  • PM Ardern on track for big re-election win in New Zealand election

PM Ardern on track for big re-election win in New Zealand election

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Labour party have surged to a huge victory in New Zealand's general election.

Labour is on track to win 66 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.

The libertarian ACT New Zealand has gained popularity and is set to win 10 seats, a major increase from the one it now has.

"This has not been an ordinary election, and it's not an ordinary time", she told her supporters. "It's been full of uncertainty and anxiety, and we set out to be an antidote to that".

She added that there is "much work to do" over the next three years. "We will build back better from the Covid crisis". If she is unable to form a Labour-only government, she is expected to continue to rely on the minor Greens while jettisoning New Zealand First. The libertarian ACT Party increased its support to 8% and the Green Party won 7.5% of the votes.

The nationalist party New Zealand First, another partner in the Labour-led coalition, has performed poorly, losing all its seats.

Ms Ardern swiftly imposed a second lockdown in Auckland and the new outbreak faded away.

These restrictions were gradually eased over following weeks as new infections fell and the Labour Party's fortunes turned around, after trailing the National Party before the pandemic.

Ardern solidified her popularity at home with a successful response to Covid-19, which kept New Zealand relatively unharmed by the coronavirus, with only 1,883 cases and 25 deaths recorded.

News.com.au's initial reporting of the results suggested that the outcome had been quite different.

Her empathetic and calm leadership style - as well as the fact that she gave birth while in office, the second elected head of government ever to do so - made Ardern an internationally popular figure. A party must win at least 5% of the total vote or at least one of the 71 electorate seats to be represented in the legislature.

Labour had led by wide margins in opinion polls before the vote. National won the largest share of the total vote in 2017, with 44%, but was then unable to find support from minor parties to form a coalition government.

National Party leader Ms Collins said she phoned the Prime Minister to offer her congratulations on what she said was an outstanding result.

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

"National will re-emerge from this loss a stronger, disciplined and more connected party", she said.

Across the ditch, former Labor leader Bill Shorten said Kiwis had "great taste in political leaders" and congratulated his "friend" Jacinda Ardern for her "famous victory". Debt is forecast to rise to 56 percent of gross domestic product from less than 20 percent before the pandemic. The weakening global economic outlook is likely to weigh on goods exports, and unemployment is seen rising following the expiry of wage subsidies paid by the government.

She burnished that reputation this year with a "go hard, go early" approach to the new coronavirus, which has eliminated locally spread COVID-19 in the nation.

"We will govern as we campaigned: positively with optimism about our future", Ardern said.

The official election results will be released on November 6.

In the election, voters also had a say on two contentious social issues - whether to legalize marijuana and euthanasia. The results of both referendums will be announced October 30.