AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was reelected in a landslide victory Saturday.
Ardern’s Labour Party won 49% of the vote compared to the National Party’s 27% in an election that featured record turnout. The Labour Party was also expected to win a majority of seats in Parliament, something that has not happened in 24 years.
“This has not been an ordinary election, and it’s not an ordinary time,” Ardern said. “It’s been full of uncertainty and anxiety, and we set out to be an antidote to that.”
Judith Collins, the National Party candidate, is a former lawyer who served as a minister when the Conservative party had control. Collins, 61, promised sweeping tax cuts in response to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ardern, 47, first won election in 2017. The following year she was the second world leader to give birth while in office, becoming a role model to working mothers worldwide.
She earned praise for her poise in the aftermath of attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, when a white supremacist fatally shot 51 Muslim worshippers. She quickly passed laws banning certain semi automatic weapons.
Her leadership during the coronavirus pandemic solidified her win. Ardern took strict measures in March when the pandemic first appeared in the country. When about 100 people had tested positive, she put the country in a strict lockdown and set a goal to eradicate the virus rather than try to control its spread. The strategy has worked for the island nation of 5 million. Now, there is currently no community spread, and people are no longer required to wear masks or take social distance measures. The country went 102 days without community transmission before an outbreak in August. Ardern again imposed a lockdown and the cluster faded.
“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,” Ardern said. “I think in this election, New Zealanders have shown that this is not who we are.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.