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NEW ZEALAND: PM Ardern wins historic re-election

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Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand
Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s delivered the biggest election victory for her centre-left Labour Party in half a century on Saturday as 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 will 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.

“This is a historic shift,” said political commentator Bryce Edwards of Victoria University in Wellington, describing the vote as one of the biggest swings in New Zealand’s electoral history in 80 years.

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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.

Ardern, 40, promised supporters she would build an economy that works for everyone, create jobs, train people, protect the environment and address climate challenges and social inequalities.

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“We are living in an increasingly polarised world,” she said. “A place where more and more have lost the ability to see one another’s point of view. I hope that with this election, New Zealand has shown that this is not who we are.”

Opposition National Party leader Judith Collins said she congratulated the prime minister for an “outstanding result”.

Labour had 49.0% of the votes, far ahead of National at 27%, the Electoral Commission said, with 95% of ballots counted.

Ardern said she would wait until the final result to say if her government would include smaller groups like the Green Party, a former coalition partner that secured a bigger 8% mandate.

Reuters

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