New Zealand announces new virus case day after 'Covid' election

Clay Curtis
October 18, 2020

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday congratulated Jacinda Ardern on her "impressive victory" in New Zealand elections 2020.

The outcome of the election allows Labour to form a new government on its own, but political analysts say it may keep its alliance with the Green party, which is on course to win 10 seats.

"This has not been an ordinary election, and it's not an ordinary time", she said. 'It's been full of uncertainty and anxiety, and we set out to be an antidote to that'.

In late March this year, when only about 100 people had tested positive for COVID-19, Ardern and her health officials put New Zealand into a strict lockdown with a motto of "Go hard and go early".

Campaigning on the slogan "Build back better", Ms Ardern promised to focus on economic recovery but promoted relatively modest policies.

A Labour-Green coalition would be the first fully left-leaning government since the 1970s, a scenario that National's Collins warned would mean more taxes and an environment hostile to business.

While the count has not been finalized, the figures were enough for opposition leader Judith Collins to concede after phoning Ardern.

Ardern, 40, won the top job at the 2017 election.

Earlier this year, Ms Ardern moved swiftly to quell the outbreak by imposing one of the world's most stringent lockdowns.

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The country went without any new cases for 102 days until August, when a small outbreak in the largest city Auckland resulted in rules being reimposed. The party pledged to introduce a mandate for all new public bus purchases to be all-electric by 2025, to phase out the use of fossil fuels in process heat and will undertake further work to ensure a just transition is provided to communities impacted by the phase out of fossil fuel use.

Labour was on target to win an outright majority of the seats in Parliament, something that hasn´t happened since New Zealand implemented a proportional voting system 24 years ago.

Labour lifted its share of the vote to a preliminary 48.9% on Saturday from 37% in the 2017 polls.

The National Party's support fell to 27% on Saturday while the Greens rose from 6.3% to 7.5%, the ACT Party jumped to 8% from 1% and New Zealand First fell from 7.2% to 2.6%. "She also really emphasized that unity message, and said she was aware that many voters had voted Labour for the first time". "National will re-emerge from this loss a stronger, disciplined and more connected party".

A defiant Judith Collins says she does not expect a challenge to her leadership when the National Party's diminished caucus meets for the first time, despite leading the party to its second-worst result in history.

New Zealanders went to the polls on Saturday for the 2020 General Election and referendums, which were postponed by nearly a month due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Auckland, the country's largest city. Debt is forecast to rise to 56 percent of gross domestic product from less than 20 percent before the pandemic.

Ardern later addressed her supporters from a stage at party headquarters, opening her speech in Maori before switching to English.

The official election results will be released on November 6.

New Zealanders also voted in two referendums on whether to legalize recreational cannabis and euthanasia.

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