Mark Baker / AP
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won re-election with an avalanche of votes.
The victory was not surprising; Ardern’s leadership has helped New Zealand become one of the most successful countries in managing the coronavirus pandemic. Going into the election, polls showed that Ardern’s Labor Party had a large advantage over its closest competitor, the National Conservative Party.
With the most votes counted, Ardern’s Liberal Labor Party won 49%. It is the best representation for the Labor Party in at least 50 years. It is also the highest score for any party since the country switched to a proportional representation system in 1996.
The Labor Party would have won 64 seats in a 120-member parliament, giving it the ability to govern without the coalition building that typically characterizes proportional representation. With 27% of the vote, the National Party took 35 seats; the libertarian ACT New Zealand and the left-wing Green Party each occupied 10 seats; and the Maori Party – a center-left party focused on indigenous rights – has secured a seat.
It remains to be seen how strongly Ardern and her Labor Party will go to implement progressive policies. In his victory speech, Ardern acknowledged that while his party has “a very strong and very clear mandate,” he vowed to be a voice for all New Zealanders.
“We live in an increasingly polarized world,” 40-year-old Ardern told hundreds of cheering supporters. “A place where, more and more, people have lost the ability to see each other’s point of view. I hope that this election, New Zealand, has shown that this is not who we are. That, as a nation, we can listen and we can discuss. After all, we are too small to lose sight of the perspective of others. “
“Elections are not always great for bringing people together,” Ardern added. “But they don’t even need to part with each other. And in times of crisis, I think New Zealand has proven that.”
The Labor victory marked a major defeat for the National Party, which lost 21 seats. “We will take some time to reflect and we will revise and change,” said party leader Judith Collins. “National will emerge from this loss as a stronger, more disciplined and more connected party.”
Other rumors on the vote included two major referendums reflecting radical social change in the 5 million island nation. Recreational cannabis would be legalized – the first apparent effort by any country to hold a national popular vote on whether or not to accept marijuana without a medical purpose.
Preliminary results won’t be released until the end of the month, but if the measure is approved, New Zealand will join Canada, Georgia, South Africa and Uruguay on the country list to legalize weed consumption nationwide. Parliament is still expected to approve the measure.
The other referendum asks if New Zealanders support the End of Life Choice Act. That act, passed by Parliament in 2019, legalizes euthanasia for those who have terminal illness, are less than six months old and are enduring suffering. ” unbearable “. It will enter into force only if approved by a majority of voters.