New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was re-elected this Saturday (17th). With almost 90% of the polls counted, Ardern (Labor Party) defeated opponent Judith Collins, leader of the National Party.
“Today, New Zealand has shown that the Labor Party has its greatest support,” said Ardern in his victory speech. “And I can promise you one thing: we will be a party that will govern for each New Zealander.”
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Labor registered about 49% of the total votes, almost double the second most voted (National). This is already the biggest support that a party has won in elections in the country since 1996, when the current proportional voting system was implemented.
New Zealand’s proportional voting system means that parties generally must form alliances to govern. The country is part of the British Commonwealth, called the Commonwealth, and is a constitutionalist monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as sovereign.
Jacinda Ardern voting – Photo: Reuters
Ardern’s popularity among New Zealanders has greatly increased by the way she has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, with the country being one of the least affected by the spread of the coronavirus and declaring itself free from the disease.
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New Zealand went as far as 102 days without any community transmission, before registering a second wave. In early October, it was declared free of contamination again, after 12 days without new records.
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In addition to votes for members of parliament, New Zealanders are also responding to two referendums this Saturday.
One of them is about the legalization of euthanasia (and assisted suicide) in some circumstances, contemplating people with terminal illnesses, who are likely to die within six months and who are experiencing “unbearable” suffering. If approved, it becomes law.
The other issue to be voted on is the legalization of marijuana, allowing people to buy up to 14 grams a day and grow two plants. In this case, however, if the majority votes in favor, legislators must still draft corresponding legislation.