New Zealand general elections- landslide for PM Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party

 Labour Party has won 64 seats in the house of 120 

PM Ardern's centre-left Labour Party scored outright majority in the general elections held on Saturday October 17.Labour Party got 49.1% votes and  won  64 seats and a rare outright parliamentary majority in the house of 120. This victory is not surprising at all because all the opinion polls were predicting a landslide for Labour Party.

The opposition centre-right National Party got 26.8% votes and just 35 seats in the 120-seat assembly. The Greens and ACT will have 10 MPs in Parliament each.The smaller parties also made it to the parliament. The turn out was around 82.5% in this general elections. 

Labour claimed 49.0 percent of the votes, National got 26.9 percent, the Greens are on 7.6 and ACT is on 8.0 percent.New Zealand First is on 2.7 percent, The Opportunities Party is on 1.4 and New Conservatives on 1.5 percent, while the Māori Party is on 1 percent and Advance NZ on 0.9 percent.

The poll was originally to be held in September but was postponed by a month after a renewed Covid-19 outbreak.

It's the red tide - a Labour landslide in the electorates has seen the party win 15 seats previously held by National Party MPs - including major upsets in Ilam, Nelson, East Coast, Upper Harbour and Northcote to name a few.

Labour also won the newly established Takanini seat, taking the number of seats Labour won that it did not already hold up to 16.

But Labour had a loss that makes a big difference - losing Waiariki means the Māori Party is back in Parliament after three years out in the cold.

This is how voting ended up in those electorates that have swung to a different party. In some cases, they weren't big wins by Labour - the margins were close. Others were authoritative wins.

Elsewhere, seats that were clear National wins had their margins heavily reduced as Labour candidates closed in on their opponents.

There were 2,397,117 votes counted on election day and the total including special votes is expected to be 2,877,117, meaning there are about 480000 special votes.

Ahead of Saturday's vote, more than a million people cast ballots in early polling, which opened on 3 October. New Zealanders were also asked to vote in two referendums alongside the general election.

Ms Ardern, 40, told her supporters after the victory: "New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in almost 50 years. We will not take your support for granted. And I can promise you we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander."

No party had managed to win an outright majority in New Zealand since it introduced a voting system known as Mixed Member Proportional representation (MMP) in 1996.

Ms Ardern, who dubbed the poll "the Covid election", pledged to instill more climate-friendly policies, boost funding for disadvantaged schools and raise income taxes on top earners.

It's a big victory for a party that has been carried through by the star power of its leader. Ms Ardern has led New Zealand through a terrorist attack, a natural disaster and a global pandemic - and has done so focusing on kindness and compassion.

But things are going to be different during the second term. New Zealand is in recession for the first time in 11 years and Labour has been criticised for not having a clear Covid-19 recovery plan. A big bulk of the work is going to be turning the economy around with the pandemic still looming large.

                                                                 Khalid Bhatti 

 


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