Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed after claiming victory in New Zealand’s general election that her ruling Labour Party would govern “for every New Zealander.”
Driving the news: Labour won 49.1%, or 64 of 120 available parliamentary seats. Ardern said in her victory speech, “New Zealand has shown the greatest support in at least 5o years.”
“We will govern as we campaigned: positively with optimism about our future. Now more than ever is the time to keep going, to keep working, to grab hold of the opportunities that lay in front of us. Let’s keep moving.”
- Opposition National Party leader Judith Collins said just after 5 a.m. ET that she had called Ardern to concede defeat.
Why it matters: A party needs to win 61 parliamentary seats to form a government alone. No party has won an outright majority in New Zealand since the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) representation voting system was introduced in 1996.
Between the lines: Labour has enough to govern alone, but it may also form a partnership with the Green Party — which won 7.6% of the vote, or 10 seats.
For the record: The election was delayed by four weeks to Oct. 17 because of the second outbreak.
Flashback: New Zealand imposed one of the world’s toughest lockdowns when the pandemic reached the country in March.
- The island nation went 102 days with no detected cases in the community before COVID-19 re-emerged in Auckland in August.
- The country’s most populous city went into a lockdown that was less severe than the first while lesser restrictions returned to the rest of the country. There are now no restrictions on the population of 5 million people.
What she’s saying: “Elections aren’t always great at bringing people together, but they also don’t need to tear one another apart. So again, I say thank you. This has not been an ordinary election and this has not been an ordinary time,” Ardern said in her victory speech.
“We have the mandate to accelerate our response and our recovery and tomorrow we start.”
The big picture: Under MMP, voters cast two ballots in the election— one to decide their local representative and another for a political party.
- New Zealanders also voted on the End of Life Choice assisted dying bill and whether to legalize cannabis. The results of these referendums are due in two weeks’ time.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.