New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a second term, and part of her success was thanks to her brilliant handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wins
Ardern's center-left Labor Party won 49 percent of the 77 percent votes that were counted. This means that her party scored the highest result that any party has achieved since the current political system in the country was introduced back in 1996.
Meanwhile, the center-right National Party, the Labour's opposition, scored 27 percent of the votes and is the party's worst result since 2002, according to Independent.Co.
The leader of the National Party, Judith Collins, said that she called Ardern to concede defeat and to congratulate the Prime Minister on the result for the Labor Party.
Although Collins already conceded, the results are still being counted as the final results will be released in three weeks once special votes, including those from overseas, are counted.
The preliminary count is also favoring the left, with the Labour party getting 37 percent. The Labour Party has been hovering around 50 percent of the votes for election night, but it will not be clear until the final results are in whether the Labour Party can stand alone or will need to form a coalition with the Green party.
Ahead of the election, Clair Timperley, a lecturer from Victoria University politics, said that the Labour party would be foolish not to have a conversation with the Green party about working together, even if they won the majority.
Early turn out
As of October 16, 2 million people, or 57 million of all registered voters, had already cast their ballot in advance at the polling stations around New Zealand, including Ardern and Collins, as reported by Sky News.
A politics lecturer at the University of Auckland, Lara Greaves, said that the high level of advance voting might have been related to the pandemic, as voters wanted to avoid long lines and the possibility of a new outbreak affecting their chance to vote on the day of the elections.
Jacinda Ardern became New Zealand's Prime Minister in 2017 at the age of 27, making her the third female leader of the country and one of the youngest leaders in the world. Within a year, she had given birth in office, and she was the second world leader to do so.
Ardern also won praise worldwide for her empathic handling of major crises in the country. After the terror attack on two Christchurch mosques in 2019, which left 51 victims dead, she immediately introduced gun law changes. She also donned a hijab when she met with the local Muslim community, as reported by CNN.
In December 2019, an active volcanic island called White Island frequented by tourists erupted, killing 21 people. Ardern quickly responded, providing assistance to everyone affected and hugging first responders.
Although she has an amazing track record and has transformed the government of New Zealand, her critics pointed out that she has not done enough to address inequality, climate change, child poverty, and the housing market.
Ardern is set to face those challenges in her second term, as she is planning to steer the country through the rough economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.