In the parliamentary elections in New Zealand, the incumbent Labor Party with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a historic victory. For the first time since the current electoral law was introduced in 1996, a party in the Pacific state won an absolute majority.
The 40-year-old Ardern, who has been in office since 2017, can rule alone – something that has not happened in New Zealand for decades. Labor has 64 of the 120 seats after almost all of the votes are counted. The conservative National Party with the top candidate Judith Collins (61) won only 35 seats. The party had ruled continuously from 2008 to 2017.
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Observers attributed the result in particular to Ardern’s internationally acclaimed crisis management in the corona pandemic and how she dealt with the right-wing extremist terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch in March 2019.
Your new government will be there “for every New Zealander”, Ardern promised in a first statement on Saturday. The next few years would not be easy, said Ardern on Saturday with a view to the corona pandemic and its consequences. But her government wanted to spread hope and optimism, she said, beaming in front of cheering supporters. “We’ll get started with it tomorrow!”
This was not a normal choice, said Ardern, who presented herself entirely in the party color red. “And these are not normal times.” But she still strives for “positive” governance. “It is a privilege to work for the people of New Zealand and to be their head of government.”
At the same time as the general election, New Zealanders were called upon to vote in two referendums on the legalization of assisted suicide for the terminally ill and the legalization of cannabis. These results are to be published on October 30th. Before the election, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference took a position against the legalization of assisted suicide by terminally ill people.
For their dealings with the victims of the attack by an Australian neo-Nazi in 2019, Ardern was praised beyond the borders of New Zealand. In their speech after the attack, it was the word “we” that was engraved in New Zealanders’ minds. “Many of those affected are immigrants, they may be refugees, they wanted to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. You are us, ”said Ardern. When meeting the injured and bereaved, Ardern wore a black headscarf, which many New Zealanders then wore as a symbol of solidarity with the victims of the attack.
The corona pandemic in New Zealand had Ardern successfully brought under control through a very strict lockdown. “Together we managed to bring the virus under control,” said Ardern, who was internationally praised for her crisis management, when the corona measures were lifted in mid-September. After the lockdown ended in mid-May, no new infections had been registered for more than 100 days. Then, in mid-August, a few cases of infection occurred in Auckland.
Since then, prevention measures have been in place in New Zealand’s largest city again. With a population of around five million, New Zealand has so far only recorded 25 deaths related to the novel virus. The success was achieved through a combination of strict border controls and many corona tests.
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Ardern also went down in history as the second head of government in the world who gave birth to a child during her tenure. The Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto became the first incumbent head of government in September 1988.
Ardern would not have dreamed of such a success as now in March 2017 when she became deputy chairwoman of her party. Less than two months before the election, she then had to step in as the top candidate in the summer because her predecessor resigned. But a wave of popular sympathy, known by some as “Jacinda mania”, carried Ardern to the top of the government within a very short time. (dpa, KNA, AFP)