Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand secured a landslide victory in the nation’s general election. With most ballots counted, 49 percent of the vote was won by Ms Ardern’s center-left Labour Party and she is predicted to gain a rare outright parliamentary majority. In Saturday’s poll, the opposition center-right National Party, currently on 27 percent, has accepted defeat. The vote was originally due in September, but after a revived Covid-19 outbreak, it was postponed by a month.The polls opened at 09:00 local time (Friday 20:00 GMT) and closed at 19:00, respectively.

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In the early polls, which opened on 3 October, over a million people had already voted.

In two referendums alongside the general election, New Zealanders were also asked to register.

Can an absolute majority win Ardern?

Jacinda Ardern: The Labor Party is on 49 percent of the vote, according to the Electoral Commission, followed by the National Party on 27 percent, and ACT New Zealand and Green parties on 8 percent.

“In nearly 50 years, New Zealand has given the Labor Party its greatest support,” Jacinda Ardern told her supporters after the win. “We’re not going to take your vote for granted. And I can assure you that for any New Zealander, we will be a party that rules.”

National Party leader Judith Collins thanked Ms. Ardern and vowed a “robust opposition” to her party.

“In the blink of an eye, 3 years will be gone,” she said, referring to the next scheduled election. “We are going to be back.”

It is predicted that Ms Ardern’s Labor Party would gain 64 seats-enough for an overall majority. Since it adopted a electoral system known as Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) in 1996, no party has managed to do so in New Zealand.

Ms Ardern vowed to adopt more climate-friendly measures, increase support for poorer schools, and increase top earners’ income taxes.

A huge victory led by star power

This was never going to be an election of nail-biting. Ms Ardern had been set on track by opinion polls to secure a second term. What everyone already suspected was validated by the results.

Jacinda Ardern: The real question was how big Jacinda Ardern and her party were going to win and this is a tremendous achievement by anybody’s measure.

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For a party that has been powered through by its leader’s star strength, it is a major victory. After a terrorist attack, a natural catastrophe and a global pandemic, Ms. Ardern led New Zealand, concentrating on kindness and compassion.

AP

Yet things during the second term are going to be different. For the first time in 11 years, New Zealand is in recession and Labor has been blamed for not having a strong Covid-19 recovery plan. A vast majority of this work is going to turn the economy around with a vast pandemic already looming.

It will take more than the success and charisma of Ms Ardern to get that done.

What else have people been voting on?

New Zealanders were also asked to vote in two referendums in addition to selecting their favorite candidate and party: the end-of – life decision on euthanasia and legalization of cannabis.

The first seeks to allow terminally ill persons the right to seek assisted dying. This is a binding referendum, meaning that if more than 50 percent vote yes, it will be implemented.

The second is if it should become legal for the recreational use of cannabis.

This, however, is not binding-which means that even though most people vote “yes”-cannabis will not automatically become legal. The introduction of a bill to legalize this will also be up to the new government.

On 30 October, provisional results will be announced for both referendums.

How is NZ’s voting system operating?

Every three years, New Zealand has a general election. Under the MMP scheme, electors are requested to vote twice — for their favorite party and MPs for their district or district.

In order to enter parliament, a party must earn more than 5% of the party’s vote or gain an electorate seat.

For Maori candidates, a number of seats are reserved.

A party needs to gain 61 out of 120 seats in order to enter a coalition. Yet no party has been able to do so on its own since the MMP was introduced.

Usually, parties have to work together, leading to minority governments.

This also suggests that a smaller number of minor party candidates will decide the election while receiving a greater share of votes from the major parties.

That happened in 2017, when the National Party won the most seats, but the government could not be formed, and Labor entered into a coalition with a nationalist party, the Greens and New Zealand First.

 

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