With more than 90% of vote counted Labour expected to secure 64 of 120 seats
Jacinda Ardern will govern New Zealand for a second term after the Labour party secured a landslide victory in the general election, attracting so many votes that it could become the first party in decades to be able to govern alone.
With more than 90% of the vote counted, Labour had secured 49%, with the opposition National party on 27%. Labour was expected to win 64 of the 120 seats in parliament, and National, 35. It is the best result for the Labour party in 50 years.
The leader of the opposition, Judith Collins, congratulated Ardern on the “outstanding result” on Saturday night.
Speaking to supporters at Auckland town hall minutes later, Ardern thanked the nation for the strong mandate. She said elections “don’t have to be divisive” and promised to govern with positivity.
“I cannot imagine a people I would feel more privileged to work on behalf of, to work alongside and to be prime minister for,” she said to cheers.
“Tonight’s result does give Labour a very strong and a very clear mandate.”
It is an extraordinary night for Labour, which might not have to rely on a minor party to form a government.
Labour’s strong lead began early on in the night, but as the hours passed the commanding lead continued.
For months, opinion polls had pointed to a Labour victory, with the latest poll showing Labour 15 points ahead of National, which has been beleaguered by infighting and disunity.
A record number of voters – more than 1.7 million – cast their ballots in advance, accounting for almost half of the roughly 3.5 million New Zealanders on the electoral rolls.
Collins – National’s third leader this year, having taken over just three months ago – often preferred to criticise Ardern’s handling of the pandemic or plans for economic recovery, rather than promote her own policies.