New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party wins landslide | DW

New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party wins landslide | DW”

Labour Party leader Ardern, 40, and National Party chief Judith Collins, 61, faced off in the election to form the country's 53rd parliament, a referendum on Ardern's three-year term.

With 87% of the vote counted, Ardern's Labour Party had 49% support - heading to its biggest share of the vote since the 1930s - after a huge swing to the left in many urban and provincial electorates. "We will build back better from the Covid crisis". That would give Labour 66 seats in Parliament.

With about one-third of votes counted, Ardern's liberal Labour Party had almost double the amount of votes than its main challenger, the conservative National Party.

© Michael Bradley/AFP/Getty Images Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern arrives with scones as she visits Labour Election Day volunteers in Auckland on October 17, 2020.

In late March this year, when only about 100 people had tested positive for the coronavirus, Ardern and her health officials put New Zealand into a strict lockdown with a motto of "Go hard and go early". But more recent polls have indicated she may need the continued support of the minor Green Party.

The election was originally scheduled for September 19, but it was postponed by a local coronavirus outbreak in Auckland that has since been contained.

New Zealand has reported fewer than 2,000 total cases and 25 deaths since the pandemic began. Ardern swiftly imposed a second lockdown in Auckland and the new outbreak faded away.

The pandemic is just one of a string of crises that showed Ardern's leadership qualities during a torrid first term.

Collins, who took over the National Party in July after a period of turmoil when the party had three leaders in three months, said the false start had cost her campaign momentum. Collins, the combative leader of the centre-right National Party, has focused on the spectre of the Greens forcing Ardern to adopt a wealth tax aimed squarely at New Zealand's aspirational middle class.

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Doors to the polling booths opened at 9:00am, though a record number of voters had already cast their ballots in advance.

New Zealand law restricts media coverage and political advertising while polls are open. The preliminary results of those will be released at the end of this month. Within a year, she had given birth in office - only the second world leader ever to do so.

The prime minister won global acclaim for her handling of a mass shooting previous year by a white supremacist in Christchurch, with her inclusive "be strong, be kind" mantra and swift action to ban guns.

The prime minister won global acclaim for her handling of a mass shooting a year ago by a white supremacist in Christchurch, with her inclusive "be strong, be kind" mantra and swift action to ban guns.

Ardern again found herself comforting a shocked nation when a volcanic eruption at White Island, also known as Whakaari, killed 21 people and left dozens more with horrific burns.

She said the turnout could also have been given a boost by two referendums running alongside the election - one on legalizing euthanasia, and another on legalizing the recreational use of cannabis.

But while she promised to lead a government of "transformation", her critics argue she hasn't done enough to address inequality, child poverty, climate change and the housing market.

It was his third time as kingmaker, providing not only support for Ms Ardern but also propping up the National government after the 1996 election and Labour in 2005.

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