New Zealand’s Ardern credits virus response for election win

Ardern on Saturday informed the country’s Governor-General that her party had the ability to form the next government

New Zealand’s Ardern credits virus response for election win

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reacts as she talks with colleagues at a cafe in Auckland, New Zealand, on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Ardern has won a second term in office in an election landslide of historic proportions. AP/PTI

Auckland, October 18

A day after winning a second term in a landslide victory, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday that she saw the election result as an endorsement of her government’s efforts to stamp out the coronavirus and reboot the economy.

Speaking at a cafe near her Auckland home, Ardern said she expected to form a new government within three weeks and to prioritise work on the virus response.

“We’re cracking on very quickly with the work we need to do as a new team,” Ardern said.

Ardern’s liberal Labour Party got 49 per cent of the vote, crushing the conservative National Party, which got 27 per cent. Ardern said the margin of the victory exceeded their expectations.

The result will give Labour an outright majority in Parliament, the first time any party has achieved that since New Zealand implemented a proportional voting system 24 years ago. Typically, parties have formed alliances to govern but this time Labour can go it alone.

Asked what she would say to those Americans who may draw inspiration from her win ahead of the US elections, Ardern said she hoped people globally could move past the partisan divisions that elections often accentuate.

“That can be damaging for democracy, regardless of the side of the House that you sit on,” she said.

Ardern’s popularity soared earlier this year after she led a successful effort to halt the spread of the virus by implementing a strict lockdown in late March.

Ardern, 40, won the top job at the 2017 election. The following year, she became only the second world leader to give birth while in office. In 2019, she was praised for her empathetic response to a massacre at two Christchurch mosques in which a gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers.

Arden said she’d been congratulated on her win by a number of world leaders, including those from Britain, Denmark, Canada and Spain. Asked if she planned to run again at the next election, Ardern laughed.

“I’ve just run in 2020. I haven’t yet taken a weekend,” she said, adding: “I’m enjoying this moment.” AP

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