PM Ardern vows to quit if she loses NZ election

New Zealand's COVID election tests true power of 'Jacinda-mania'

Here in central Christchurch, the only visible signs of the global pandemic are the QR code posters displayed at every business for the country's contact tracing app.

New Zealand's Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern today spoke on national radio about why she should continue as prime minister on the last day of campaigning before the general election tomorrow.

But her first term has ended up being defined by her ability to handle a crisis - her response to the Christchurch mosque shootings on March 15, 2019 was lauded nationally and overseas, an image of her wearing a headscarf and hugging a Muslim New Zealander displayed on the world's tallest building. "New Zealand has done well with management of COVID-19 but Chapter 2 of the story starts from Sunday". The government's decision to close its global borders to foreign nationals in March, and a series of strict domestic lockdowns appear to have been well received by voters, although the virus has pushed the nation into recession. The country of 5 million has recorded fewer than 2000 cases, with 25 deaths. "It is an attempt to provoke Ardern into responding to Collins, you know, putting a spotlight on a confrontation between those two leaders, and yet trying to make National seem a little bit more relevant in the dying days of an election that they certainly do not look on track to win". "It isn't a mania, it's respect", Hayward said.

But Labor, under the leadership of Ardern, has become immensely popular. It also appears to have encouraged more people to vote early and avoid the crowds, with more than half of all voters expected to cast their ballot before Saturday.

The opposition National party hasn't issued foreign policy, while Labour quietly issued a nine-paragraph policy as part of its manifesto on Tuesday afternoon.

With New Zealand having the advantage of being an isolated island nation, the strategy worked.

"No worldwide halo is so shabby, or so fraudulent, as that worn by New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern". Labour has been well ahead in the polls, polling up to 55% to 60% but that's declining steadily.

The poll numbers translate to 59 seats for Labor, 40 for National, 11 for the Greens and 10 for ACT.

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A referendum on whether to enact Seymour's End of Life Choice bill on euthanasia is also part of this year's election, along with a referendum on whether to legalize recreational cannabis. Facebook representatives said the decision to remove Advance NZ's page was based on "repeated violations" of its policy against sharing "misinformation on our platforms about Covid-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm".

'My message would that be if people don't want to see me resign, then vote for Labour, ' she told media after the debate.

The government is widely seen as falling short of its promises on three key issues which defined Ardern's campaign three years ago - housing affordability, climate change and poverty.

Under New Zealand's proportional voting system, Ardern would still need minor party support to govern but current coalition partner the Greens would easily get her over the line, lifting its support two points to eight percent.

She burnished her reputation this year with her "go hard, go early" approach to the coronavirus, which has resulted in the national elimination of COVID-19.

"We've had such a large chunk of the electorate already vote, so I think this is going to be the most accurate representation of what is going to be the final result".

Hayward said Ardern was a naturally conservative and cautious leader who tended towards incremental reform.

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