New Zealand election: Jacinda Ardern wins historic second term

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has won a landslide victory in the country's general election.

With nearly 100% of the vote counted, Labour had secured 49%, with the opposition National party on 27%. Labour was expected to win 64 of the 120 seats in parliament, and National, 35.

Ms Ardern, 40, said after her victory: "New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in almost 50 years. We will not take your support for granted. And I can promise you we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander."

She added: “We are living in an increasingly polarised world, a place where more and more people have lost the ability to see one another’s point of view. I hope in this election New Zealand has shown that this is not who we are. That as a nation we can listen, and we can debate."

The poll was originally to be held in September but was postponed by a month after a renewed Covid-19 outbreak.

Ahead of Saturday's vote, more than a million people cast ballots in early polling, which opened on 3 October.

The leader of the opposition, Judith Collins, congratulated Ardern on the “outstanding result” on Saturday night, but refused to answer questions from reporters on whether she would stay on as leader.

New Zealand has a general election every three years. Under its mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) system, voters are asked to vote twice - for their preferred party and for their electorate, or constituency, MP.

A party must receive more than 5% of the party vote or win an electorate seat to enter parliament, although there are guarantees for Maori candidates.

Ardern has yet to decide if she will invite the Green party into government; but even without them, the new government will be significantly more progressive and left-leaning than its previous iteration.

Labour was seeking a second term on the back of Ms Ardern's success of controlling the virus.The results suggested New Zealanders had rewarded Arden for her adept handling of the pandemic, which has so far spared the country the worst of Covid-19.

Ardern, who has become globally famous as a progressive leader,said she is not finished yet and promised to halve child poverty by 2030, tackle the climate crisis and build more state housing. She has also promised to resuscitate the economy after a strict seven-week lockdown.

Political analysts have described the 2020 general election as “weird”, “odd” and “bizarre”; and said it lacked the usual drama and scandal – as well as much coherency.

Meanwhile, New Zealanders are also voting on referendums to legalise euthanasia and recreational marijuana - with results announced on 30 October.