Jacinda Ardern Eyes Majority As New Zealand Votes

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Jacinda Ardern Eyes Majority As New Zealand Votes

Millions have voted in New Zealand’s delayed general elections.

Early results put Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on course to win a second term, boosted by her successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the big question now is whether she will win a parliamentary majority, which would be unprecedented.

The vote was originally due to be in September, but was postponed by a month after a renewed Covid-19 outbreak.

The polls opened at 09:00 local time (20:00 GMT Friday) and closed at 19:00.

More than a million people have already voted in early polling which opened up on 3 October.

New Zealanders were also asked to vote in two referendums alongside the general election vote.

Could Ardern win an outright majority?

Early results show Ms Ardern is comfortably on track to win a second term.

However, at question is whether the Labour Party could win an outright majority. No party has managed to do so in New Zealand since it introduced a parliamentary system known as Mixed Member Proportional representation (MMP) in 1996.

With more than 30% of ballots tallied, Ms Ardern’s Labour Party has taken around 50% of the vote, according to the Electoral Commission. This would give them more than half the seats in the national parliament.

The centre-right National Party is on around 26% of the vote, with the Green Party on about 8%.

Professor Jennifer Curtin of the University of Auckland says have been similar situations in the past where one leader was tipped to win a majority, but it did not come to pass.

“When John Key was leader, opinion polls put his chances at 50% of the vote… but on the day it didn’t work out,” she said.

“New Zealand voters are quite tactical in that they split their vote, and close to 30% give their party vote to a smaller party, which means it is still a long shot that Labour will win over 50% of the vote.”

https://www.bbc.com

Another analyst, Josh Van Veen, told the BBC that he believed the “most likely scenario” was that Labour would need to form a government with the Green Party – one of two coalition partners that helped Labour form the government in 2017.

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He adds that Ms Ardern’s handling of the pandemic has certainly won her points, adding that it was “quite possible” New Zealand would have “rejected her if not for Covid-19”.

“At the beginning of the year… there was a very real perception she had failed to deliver on her promises. She was going to end child poverty and solve the housing crisis but did neither,” he said.

“My sense is that her popularity will decline once the election is over.”

Jacinda Ardern Eyes Majority As New Zealand Votes

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