Counting the majority of votes, Arden’s center-left Labour Party is expected to receive 49% of the votes, which means that 64 of the 120 parliamentary seats will receive a majority.
But this will also enable her to take on the heavy responsibility of revitalizing New Zealand’s economy, being hit by the world’s toughest flu pandemic lockdown rules and travel bans, which severely damages key tourism.
The 40-year-old beaming Ardern gave an opening speech in the New Zealand’s indigenous language Te Reo Maori at the Auckland City Hall.
She continued: “Tonight New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support for at least 50 years.”
In stark contrast to today’s “polarized world”, Arden promised to “keep bureaucracy in the campaign: be positive and optimistic about our future.”
Ardennes are expected to win the election. But the main unknown is.
The Labor Party’s main opposition center-right National Party is expected to win about 27% of the seats, accounting for 35 seats, down from 44% in the last election in 2017.
In the early years before the pandemic, opinion polls showed fierce competition between the Labor Party and the Kuomintang.
Despite Ardern’s growing international fame and her handling of the Christchchch mosque massacre, which claimed 51 lives and shocked a country with a low gun crime rate . Ardern was praised for his links with the Muslim community in New Zealand and urged prompt legislation to ban most assault guns.
However, in the months since the coronavirus swept the world, Arden’s election prospects have begun to change.
When there were only more than 100 coronavirus cases in this remote country with a population of 5 million, Arden implemented lockdown measures. In the following months, New Zealand has officially reported fewer than 2,000 cases and 25 covid-19-related deaths, the lowest cases in the world.
These policies are not without painful consequences.
New Zealand is facing its worst recession in decades, due in large part to the strict response of the government. Although the authorities have prepared repatriation arrangements, the suspension of work and the existing immigration policies have also kept migrant workers abroad and split up mixed families.
Despite this, Arden’s rivals in the Kuomintang seem to have failed to convince the majority of voters that their more conservative economic policies would be desirable.
Arden also faces a second term in which tensions with China have increased, including Arden’s claims that Beijing is interfering in New Zealand’s affairs.
New Zealand supported Taiwan’s bid for a place in the World Health Organization in May, and supported calls for investigations into the cause of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which was first discovered in Wuhan, China.
In a speech to the Chinese business community in July, Arden emphasized that her government “adopts a principle-based approach to foreign policy” to address issues such as Hong Kong and the abuse of rights by Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Later that month, New Zealand suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong after implementing a national security law backed by Beijing, which greatly limits political dissent.
Arden has repeatedly stated that New Zealand is seeking to diversify trade relations outside of China. But New Zealand’s tourism, agriculture and education sectors still rely heavily on China.
The motto of’be kind’
When she was elected in 2017, Arden, then 37, was the youngest current leader of the country. A year later, she gave birth and became the second serving world leader. Since then, she has been hailed as a role model for working mothers.
Ardern’s compassionate political slogan-“kindness”, which became the slogan during the pandemic-is in stark contrast to President Trump’s polarizing attitude, which occasionally opposes it.
She has always been a firm supporter of international cooperation on issues such as climate change, so supporters call it “anti-Trump.”
The final result and subsequent parliamentary seat allocation will not be announced for three weeks to allow time to count special votes, such as New Zealanders living overseas.
Similarly, the results of the referendum on legalizing recreational marijuana and the legalization of “assisted death” in voting will not be announced within two weeks.
This year, about 1.9 million people (about half of the eligible voters) voted in the early voting that began on October 3.
New Zealand adopted a proportional voting structure in 1996. It is the norm to have a coalition government. In 24 years, no party has won a majority.
Berger reports from Washington.