With New Zealand going to vote on Saturday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern looks for a second term in office on the ground of the strong Coronavirus pandemic response her government did by eliminating the virus twice from the shores of New Zealand. However, the latest polls suggest that Ardern’s Center-Left Labour party may not win an absolute majority and may need the support of the Left-wing Greens party with her current coalition partner, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters nationalist New Zealand First party facing complete route in the election.
Ardern, 61, in a recent interview to Radio New Zealand has said, “If you want pace and speed, give us a strong mandate” implying that her party is better placed for providing stable government and keeping people safe. Her main opponent this election is 61 years old Judith Collins, leader of the conservative Nationalist Party who is tough on crime veteran politician better known as the “Crusher” for her bold policy on illegal street racing.
While Ardern’s approval rating was down before the arrival of Covid-19 pandemic with markets sentiments low during initial months of her election, the approval rating has since risen with her success in eliminating coronavirus from New Zealand with only 25 deaths. Colins has argued that her pro-business party can tackle post-pandemic economic fallout better as she warned voters against Left coming to power which could result in a rise in taxes and an environment hostile to business. Even though New Zealand has successfully eliminated coronavirus, its economy particularly tourism sector is badly impacted with economist predicting a possible recession. Also, Ardern has faced criticism for failing to deliver on the promise of being transformational.
Out of the 3.5 million registered voters, 1.5 million voters have already cast their vote with the voting on Saturday evening and provisional results being announced on the same night. If labour gets an absolute majority, it will become the first party since 1996 to govern alone since New Zealand moved to Mixed Member Proportional (MMS) system.