Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Labor Party has obtained 49% of the votes in the general elections held this Saturday in the country, which will allow her to form a government alone. The main opposition party, the center-right National Party, has suffered a dramatic drop with around 27% of the vote, exacerbating the crisis in the formation.
"New Zealand tonight has shown the strongest support for the Labor Party in at least 50 years," Ardern, 40, told his euphoric supporters and after opening his speech in the Maori language.
He burning effect will allow Labor to win 64 seats out of a total of 120, a historic milestone, as it is the first time a party has reached an absolute majority in Congress since an electoral system based on representation was introduced in New Zealand in 1996 proportional, to favor coalition governments.
In his speech to thousands of supporters at Auckland City Council, Ardern has vowed that he will rule for each and every New Zealander. “It has not been an ordinary election nor is it an ordinary moment. It has been full of uncertainty and anxiety and we have represented the antidote to all this. As a nation we needed a plan for recovery, and this is what we have created. We needed a health response against the pandemic to keep people safe, and this is what we have done. "
For months, all polls predicted a comfortable majority of Labor, thanks to the popularity of the prime minister and her success in the fight against covid-19, prioritizing health over the economy, which has entered a recession as a result of that decision . However, with the total closure of the borders and the application of two strict confinements, his Government has limited the contagion of the coronavirus to 1,900 cases in total and has achieved that barely 25 deaths have been registered by the covid-19 in a country of almost five million inhabitants.
With these electoral results, Ardern achieves the “strongest mandate” that he has been asking the electorate for months, after a legislature in coalition with two parties with very different ideologies, the populist NZ First on the one hand and Los Verdes on the other.
The National Party has outperformed polls and has lost seats in some of its traditional constituencies. The formation has changed direction three times since last May due to its very low support. Its current leader, Judith Collins, 61, is a career lawyer who held various ministries in the previous government of the center-right party (2008-2017). Although he has a much more aggressive style than Ardern, he has failed to convince the electorate that his economic plan is the most robust for the recovery of the post-covid economy.
Before the count was over, Collins acknowledged his defeat and telephoned the prime minister to congratulate her on her victory. "To Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whom I have phoned, congratulations on the result because it is an exceptional result for the Labor Party," he said in a televised speech.
Ardern is the third prime minister in New Zealand history. It is not the first time in this country that two women have faced each other for the highest office: in 1999, Labor party Helen Clark defeated the leader of the National Party, Jenny Shipley, and ruled the country for three terms.