The Prime Minister of New Zealand won thanks to clear principles and empathy. Without a coalition partner, she can now do more social policy.
There is still hope for the battered social democracy. At least when she looks far away – to New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern’s Labor Party won a brilliant election there on Saturday. Surveys indicated that Labor would win. But nobody expected such a victory, which for the first time under the current electoral system does not even require a coalition partner, including Ardern.
Her victory is based less on social democratic content and more on her personal political style, in which she convinced several times through successful crisis management, as well as through her communication skills. Ardern is characterized by clear principles as well as empathy and the ability to find the right words in difficult moments. She takes those affected with her and gives them the feeling that they are part of a solidary community.
Ardern emphasized this in her victory speech, in which she did not take off despite the triumph. Rather, she emphasized the importance of listening to others and debating instead of beating each other down. She even presented this as a special quality of the people in New Zealand. Because of its small size, the country could not impose anything on others.
From a global perspective, New Zealand may be small, but regionally, the neighbor of many small Pacific island states is more influential than Ardern says. Nevertheless, her style is a boon to the quackery of many politicians who like themselves as alpha animals and believe they can score points.
Ardern’s problem is that she now has to make more social democratic politics. So far, she has always been able to refer to blockades by her right-wing populist coalition partner New Zealand First. But he was thrown out of parliament. Thanks to Corona, Ardern will soon have to decide in the face of growing economic problems, from whom she will demand the greater sacrifices and whose solidarity she will have to insist on – perhaps in vain.