Jacinda Ardern credits virus response for election win

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Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Covid-19
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has described her landslide election victory as an endorsement of her government’s efforts to stamp out the coronavirus and reboot the economy.

A day after winning a second term – with her Labour Party now able to govern without a coalition partner – Ms Ardern said she expected to form a new government within three weeks and to prioritise work on the virus response.

“We’re cracking on very quickly with the work we need to do as a new team,” Ms Ardern said.

Ms Ardern’s liberal Labour Party received 49% of the vote, crushing the conservative National Party, which had 27%.

Ms Ardern said the margin of the victory exceeded her party’s expectations.

The result will give Labour an outright majority in Parliament, the first time any party has achieved that since New Zealand implemented a proportional voting system 24 years ago. Typically parties have formed alliances to govern but this time Labour can go it alone.

Asked what she would say to those Americans who may draw inspiration from her win ahead of the US elections, Ms Ardern said she hoped people globally could move past the partisan divisions that elections often accentuate.

“That can be damaging for democracy, regardless of the side of the House that you sit on,” she said.

Ms Ardern’s popularity soared earlier this year after she led a successful effort to halt the spread of the virus by implementing a strict lockdown in late March.

The 40-year-old won the top job at the 2017 election. The following year, she became only the second world leader to give birth while in office. In 2019, she was praised for her empathetic response to a massacre at two Christchurch mosques in which a gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers.

Ms Arden said she had been congratulated on her win by a number of world leaders, including those from Britain, Denmark, Canada and Spain.

Asked if she planned to run again at the next election, Ms Ardern laughed.

“I’ve just run in 2020. I haven’t yet taken a weekend,” she said. “I’m enjoying this moment.”

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