WELLINGTON: Jacinda Ardern will serve a second term as New Zealand prime minister following Labour’s landslide victory in an election on Saturday, which delivered a major shift towards progressive parties.
The prime minister’s opponent Judith Collins conceded defeat on Saturday when almost a quarter of the votes were to be counted.
Labour has won almost 50 per cent of the vote compared to 27 per cent for the opposition National party.
The resounding victory follows a Labour campaign that focused on Ardern’s strong and empathetic leadership during a series of crises, including Covid-19 and the murder of 51 Muslims in Christchurch by a far-right extremist in 2019.
After opposition National Party leader Collins conceded, Ardern came out of her home in Auckland, waving and hugging gathered supporters.
“To Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who I have phoned, congratulations on your result because it is, I believe, an outstanding result for the Labour Party,” Collins said in a televised speech.
“People were very grateful and very happy with how we’ve handled COVID, they like the shape of the plan that we’ve got going forward from here for the economy,” said Finance Minister Grant Robertson, a top Labour MP.
Ardern has pledged to raise taxes on top earners, while Collins promised short-term tax cuts, but they have otherwise shown few major differences on policy.
The prime minister won global acclaim for her handling of a mass shooting last year by a white supremacist at a mosque in Christchurch, with her inclusive “be strong, be kind” mantra and swift action to ban guns.
She burnished that reputation this year with a “go hard, go early” approach to the new coronavirus, which has eliminated locally spread COVID-19 in the nation.