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New Zealand votes with polls indicating a big win for Jacinda Ardern

Voters, however, appeared more willing to reward Ardern for her handling of the pandemic than to punish her for her blow to the economy. A poll on Friday showed Labor with 46%, far ahead of the opposition National Party at 31%.

His government’s response to the coronavirus outbreaks – including some of the toughest border blockades and controls in the world – is attributed to achieving some of the lowest death rates in the world with just 25 recorded deaths.

Under a mild spring sky, orderly lines formed outside schools and churches, inside shopping malls, and a host of other polling stations across the country. Election day brought news that a total of 1

.9 million New Zealanders voted early, 57% of all registered voters, suggesting a possible record turnout.

In keeping with what has become a light-hearted kiwi tradition, originating from the ban on publishing partisan media content on election day, many voters visited the polling booth with their pet dogs, with many sharing pictures of their dogs. on social media.

Jane Jones, 49, cast her vote today in the Christchurch suburb of St Martin. “I feel there has been a lot more discussion among our friends about what we are thinking, about what we value,” at the start of the election, he said, largely due to the two referendum questions accompanying the vote for representatives. .

“I guess there is a lot at stake because of the covid,” he added, reflecting on the high turnout so far.

He added that, in such difficult times, he appreciated the opportunity to be able to consider voting for a number of parties that, with New Zealand’s system of proportionate representation, have the possibility of obtaining seats in parliament. “I think it’s really dangerous when we only get a red and a blue vote and when people get binary opinions,” he continued.

“In the current climate, I believe voting is more important than ever,” said Christchurch student Riley Bray, 23, citing issues such as climate change. His vote was cast today, he added, making “decisions about what I think my future children would like.”

Ardern faced another unprecedented test last year after a gunman opened fire on two Christchurch mosques, killing 51. Her commitment to the Muslim community and support for a bill that prohibited most assault weapons was applauded by many in New Zealand and brought her global recognition.

Her embrace of international cooperation and pan-national issues, including climate change, has earned her the nickname “anti-Trump” among her supporters.

Despite Ardern’s star power, landslide victories are a rarity under the New Zealand proportional representation system that offers seats in parliament to any party that gets more than 5% of the popular vote. This could force Labor into a power-sharing deal with the Green Party, which shows between 6% and 8% in pre-election polls.

During the campaign, Judith Collins, Ardern’s rival who leads the center-right National Party, has repeatedly sought to promote her credentials as a pro-business leader in a better position to restore growth to the country’s pandemic-battered economy. , invoking the prospect of a left coalition blocking the recovery.

The first results were expected hours after polls closed at 7pm. Saturday, or 2 am on the east coast of the United States.

New Zealand’s recession may be more protracted and severe than that following the global financial meltdown, with the Ardern blockade contributing to a 12.2% GDP contraction between April and June and other bad news expected in the coming months.

But on Saturday there is more on the run-off of who runs the country.

The election also includes two referendum questions regarding the legalization of cannabis and whether to allow “assisted death” when required, under certain conditions, by the terminally ill. If both pass, New Zealand will follow in the footsteps of Canada and some European states, although polls suggest a close dispute on both issues.

Record levels of early voting have occurred despite the relative lack of coronavirus concerns. More than 1.7 million people – about half of the electorate – have voted early since 3 October.

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