PM felicitates Jacinda Ardern on 'impressive victory' in NZ polls

A woman with black hair wearing a green and black top gestures with her hands while in front of a microphone

Jacinda Ardern's center-left Labour Party will lead New Zealand's government for a second term following elections on Saturday, in which voters rewarded her administration's success in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Labour has nearly 50 per cent of the vote - the most any party has achieved under MMP and easily enough to govern without relying on another party, meaning it will get more than the 61 seats needed for a parliamentary majority.

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson, whose party governed in coalition with Labour during the first term, said the prime minister now had a mandate to implement change.

Party president Claire Szabo praised the charismatic leader's campaign, who sparked a wave of support dubbed "Jacinda-mania" when she took over the party in 2017 as it was languishing in the polls. 'It's been full of uncertainty and anxiety, and we set out to be an antidote to that'. "We will build back stronger from the coronavirus".

"To those amongst you who may not have supported Labour before - and the results tell me there were a few of you - to you, I say thank you".

Ms Ardern promised not to take her new supporters for granted and to govern for all New Zealanders.

Ms Ardern swiftly imposed a second lockdown in Auckland and the new outbreak faded away.

National's collapse was not just to Labour's benefit: ACT leader David Seymour is on track to be joined by nine colleagues, the best result in the party's 24-year history. After more than 100 days without community transmission, an outbreak flared in largest city Auckland, but that was also quickly stamped out.

That was despite Ardern's growing worldwide fame and her handling of the Christchurch mosque massacres, which claimed 51 lives and stunned a nation with low rates of gun crime.

No leader has achieved an outright majority since New Zealand adopted a proportional voting system in 1996, leading to a succession of multi-party governments. A party must win at least 5% of the total vote or at least one of the 71 electorate seats to be represented in the legislature.

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"New Zealand is in for a tough economic ride and it is going to need better fiscal policy than we have so far seen", she said.

"For 27 years there's been one party that's been prepared to question the establishment and challenge authority, and tonight more than ever that force is still needed", he said, highlighting an economy devastated by Covid-19.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) and National leader Judith Collins participate in a televised debate at TVNZ in Auckland, New Zealand, September 22, 2020.

"The results show how much New Zealanders want a strong, truly progressive government". Debt is forecast to rise to 56 percent of gross domestic product from less than 20 percent before the pandemic.

Her poll numbers shot through the roof in the aftermath of New Zealand eliminating COVID-19 from the community and stayed there.

Life is back to normal in New Zealand, but its borders are still shut, its tourism sector is bleeding and economists predict a lasting recession after the harsh lockdowns.

In terms of Ms Ardern's campaign and victory, Mr Gayford said he was elated with the result.

Preliminary results won't be released until the end of the month, but if the measure passes, then New Zealand would join Canada, Georgia, South Africa and Uruguay on the list of countries to have legalized consumption of pot on the national level.

New Zealanders also voted today in referendums to legalise euthanasia and recreational marijuana, with results to be announced on October 30.

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