Today's Paper Latest Elections Coronavirus 🔵 Covid Classroom Cooking Families Core values Story ideas iPad Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption New Zealand Labour Party supporters react as results are showed on a screen at a party event after the polls closed in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a second term in office Saturday in an election landslide.

With most votes counted, Ardern's liberal Labor Party was winning 49% of the vote compared with 27% for its main challenger, the conservative National Party.

Labor 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. Typically, parties must form alliances to govern, but this time Ardern and Labor can go it alone.

In a victory speech in front of hundreds of cheering supporters in Auckland, Ardern said her party had gotten more support from New Zealanders than at any time in at least 50 years.

"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."

[Video not showing up above? Click here to view » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRL1K3MrPQs]

Ardern promised not to take her new supporters for granted and to govern for all New Zealanders.

"We are living in an increasingly polarized world, a place where, more and more, people have lost the ability to see one another's point of view," she said. "I think in this election, New Zealanders have shown that this is not who we are."

A record number of voters cast early ballots in the two weeks leading up to the election.

Ardern's popularity soared earlier this year after she led a successful effort to stamp out the coronavirus. There is currently no community spread of the virus in the nation of 5 million and people are no longer required to wear masks or social-distance.

Ardern, 40, won the top job after the 2017 election when Labor formed an alliance with two other parties. The following year, she became only the second world leader to give birth while in office.

She became a role model for working mothers around the world. And she was praised for her handling of last year's attack on two Christchurch mosques, when a white supremacist gunned down 51 Muslim worshippers.

She moved quickly to pass new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.

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." She shut the borders and outlined an ambitious goal of eliminating the virus entirely rather than just trying to control its spread.

With New Zealand having the advantage of being an isolated island nation, the strategy worked. The country eliminated community transmission for 102 days before a new cluster was discovered in August in Auckland. Ardern swiftly imposed a second lockdown in Auckland and the new outbreak faded away. The only new cases found recently have been among returning travelers, who are in quarantine.

The Auckland outbreak also prompted Ardern to postpone the election by a month and helped increase the early voter turnout.

The National Party's leader, Judith Collins, is a former lawyer. She served as a minister when National was in power and prides herself on a blunt, no-nonsense approach. Collins, 61, was promising sweeping tax cuts in response to the economic downturn caused by the virus.

In a speech to her supporters in Auckland, Collins said she'd called Ardern to congratulate her.

"It is an outstanding result for the Labor Party," Collins said. "It has been a tough campaign."

Collins promised that the party would be back to fight another day.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she thanks her electorate workers at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. New Zealand is holding a general election Saturday, and opinion polls indicate Ardern is on track to win a second term as prime minister. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she thanks her electorate workers at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. New Zealand is holding a general election Saturday, and opinion polls indicate Ardern is on track to win a second term as prime minister. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she gives her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she gives her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, right, is congratulated by her partner Clarke Gayford following her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, right, is congratulated by her partner Clarke Gayford following her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she gives her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she gives her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Labour Party supporters react as results are showed on a screen at a party event after the polls closed in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Labour Party supporters react as results are showed on a screen at a party event after the polls closed in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she thanks her electorate workers at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. New Zealand is holding a general election Saturday, and opinion polls indicate Ardern is on track to win a second term as prime minister. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she thanks her electorate workers at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. New Zealand is holding a general election Saturday, and opinion polls indicate Ardern is on track to win a second term as prime minister. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Labour Party supporters react as results are showed on a screen at a party event after the polls closed in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Polling places closed and vote counting began on election day in New Zealand on Saturday as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seeks a second term. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Labour Party supporters react as results are showed on a screen at a party event after the polls closed in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Polling places closed and vote counting began on election day in New Zealand on Saturday as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seeks a second term. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern waves as she prepares to give her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern waves as she prepares to give her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern walks onto the stage to give her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern walks onto the stage to give her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with the Democrat-Gazette commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. The Democrat-Gazette commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT