Voters, however, seemed more willing to reward Ardern for her handling of the pandemic than to punish her for its blows to the economy. A poll Friday showed Labor up 46 percent, well ahead of the opposition’s national party with 31 percent.
Her government’s response to coronavirus outbreaks – including some of the most severe lockdowns and border controls in the world – is attributed to achieving some of the lowest deaths in the world with only 25 deaths recorded.
Ardern faced another unprecedented test last year after a shooter opened fire on two Christchurch mosques, claiming 51
Her embrace of international cooperation and pan-national issues, including climate change, earned her the nickname “anti-Trump” among her supporters.
Despite Arden’s star power, landslide victories are a rarity under New Zealand’s proportional representation system, which provides parliamentary seats to any party that takes more than 5 per cent of the popular vote. This could force Labor into a power-sharing agreement with the Greens, showing between 6 percent and 8 percent of the vote before the election.
During the campaign, Judith Collins, Arden’s rival who leads the center-right National Party, repeatedly tried to promote her credentials as a business-friendly leader who is better able to return growth to the country’s pandemically battered economy and invoke the prospect of a left-wing coalition stalling recovery.
Early results are expected hours after the polls close at. 19 Saturday or at 2 on the U.S. East Coast.
New Zealand’s recession may be more prolonged and severe than the one that followed the global economic crash, with Arden’s lockdown contributing to a 12.2 per cent GDP decline between April and June, with more bad news expected in the coming months.
But there is more to the vote on Saturday than who gets to govern the country.
The election also includes two referendum questions regarding the legalization of cannabis and whether one can allow “assisted dying” when the terminally ill under certain conditions request it. If both pass, New Zealand will follow in the footsteps of Canada and some European states, although voting suggests close competition on both issues.
Record levels of pre-tuning have occurred despite the relative lack of coronavirus concerns. More than 1.7 million people – about half of the electorate – voted early since October 3.