New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern wins second term in electoral landslide
The 40-year-old prime minister campaigned on a pledge to lead the country to recover quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest polls had his Labor Party in the lead with 46 percent and a 15 point lead over the national opposition party led by Judith Collins, nicknamed “Crusher”.
Collins had campaigned on a platform that an Ardern majority or a left-wing coalition would mean higher taxes as government support programs against coronaviruses expire.
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In the last debate leading up to the election, Collins warned voters about failed 2017 election promises, including a new rail line in Auckland that would be paid for by a new fuel tax.
Three years later, the tax remains, but the railroad is not built.
“I think it’s very hard to trust parties when they promise, absolutely promise that they’ll do certain things and then they don’t do those things,” Collins said.
Still, Collins had an uphill battle hoping to topple one of the world’s most popular politicians.
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Ardern was first elected in a 2017 election which she was supposed to lose by a landslide largely because of her charisma and communication skills. New Zealanders were so in love with their now 40-year-old PM that they called the ‘Jacinda-mania’ effect.
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Ardern had her first child the following year, becoming the second woman in modern history after Pakistani Benazir Bhutto to give birth while in power. She brought her daughter with her when she gave a speech at a United Nations peace summit and defended her ability to do both tasks.
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“I am by no means the first woman to multitask as a woman in politics,” she said. “There are a lot of women who have made a path and gradually paved the way for people to consider my time in leadership and to think, yes I can do the job and be a mother.
She made more headlines when she spoke about climate change, saying, “It’s about being on the right side of history.” But it was in 2019 that she became internationally known after a man armed with semi-automatic weapons terrorized two mosques in Christchurch, killing 51 worshipers.
She vowed the country’s gun laws would change, then six days after the attack, she announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles that passed in parliament a month later. .
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The 29-year-old white Australian supremacist guilty of the attack was sentenced last week to life in prison without parole. Ardern said she was relieved to know that “this person will never see the light of day”. She refused to speak of him by name.
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When the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread in early 2020, Ardern quickly closed New Zealand’s borders to anyone who had traveled to mainland China. It was February and in March Ardern closed the country’s borders to all foreigners and began a mandatory month-long lockdown with a warning of huge fines and jail time for anyone breaking the quarantine.
The tactic worked, with Ardern announcing that New Zealand had effectively wiped out COVID-19 inside its borders in June.
“I did a little dance,” she said at the time.
Considering the results of the polls in New Zealand, she’s doing another little dance this weekend.
–With files from The Canadian Press
New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern wins overwhelming re-election
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