New Zealand’s Prime Minister Wins Historic Reelection


Chloe Wong, Staff Writer

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern, has scored a landslide win in the country’s general election, earning a second term in office thanks to her effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ardern and the center-left Labour Party won a Parliament majority of 49:1 on Oct. 17, securing the party a rare outright majority. The opposition party, the right-leaning National Party, won just 26.8% of Parliamentary seats in comparison. 

Out of the 120-seat assembly, the Labour Party will bring a projected 64; it has not seen such a historic victory in over 50 years. Ardern, 40, will now have the chance to deliver more progressive policies to the country, including an equitable economy, social justice for minorities, and solutions to climate change. She was unable to do so in her first term as Prime Minister, during which the Labour Party shared power with conservative forces.

Although Ardern’s reelection comes during a period of global unrest, her expert handling of the pandemic, along with the ability to guide her country through times of sorrow, such as the Christchurch shooting in 2019, has contributed to her steady popularity among New Zealanders. 

While the U.S. and other western democracies waffled back and forth on the idea of coronavirus lockdowns, Ardern announced a nationwide lockdown as early as March, when New Zealand had 102 cases of the virus. Citizens were quick to comply with the regulations, which prohibited activities such as eating out and gathering in public places. Ardern was eager to answer any questions New Zealanders had about the lockdown on a Facebook Live, duly encouraging them to “stay in their bubbles” and adhere to coronavirus guidelines. 

As of late October, there are less than ten coronavirus cases per day among the island nation’s population of 5 million, though lockdowns were lifted as early as June when Ardern said she “did a little dance” upon the country’s near-elimination of COVID-19. Citizens and those abroad have praised her. In September, Ardern had an approval rating of 54%, a rate that she has held consistently since early polls in June. 

“We are living in an increasingly polarized world,” Arden said in her victory speech to a crowd of cheering supporters, “a place where, more and more, people have lost the ability to see one another’s point of view. I hope that this election, New Zealand has shown that this is not who we are. That, as a nation, we can listen and we can debate. After all, we are too small to lose sight of other people’s perspectives. Elections aren’t always great at bringing people together. But they also don’t need to tear one another apart. And in times of crisis, I believe New Zealand has shown that.”

“We know the next few years will not be easy.”

Arden also added, “The last few have not been easy either, but there have been chinks of light that have shone through even the darkest of times. So again, I say thank you. This has not been an ordinary election, and this has not been an ordinary time.”


Photo courtesy of NBCNEWS.COM