From all accounts, Jacinda Ardern has proved to be tactful leader.
She led her Labour Party to an epoch-making victory at the general election held on October 17, 2020, winning 64 seats, the like of which the Party has not seen in at least 50 years.
She improved the position on Friday, November 6, 2020 by winning in three other constituencies but because of MMP restrictions, adding just one seat, taking the total number of seats to 65.
Another electoral history was made as India-born Priyanca Radhakrishnan was declared winner of the Maungakiekie seat after all the special votes were counted.
An Electoral Commission Press Release said that in the final result, she received 16,232 votes, obtaining a majority of 635 votes over her National Party rival Denise Lee.
Winners and Losers
Ms Lee is now out of Parliament.
There are two other upsets for National Party. Its candidate Matt King has lost the Northland seat to Labour Party’s Willow-Jean Prime with a majority of 163 votes. In Whangarei, National Party candidate Shane Reti has been defeated by Labour Party candidate Emily Henderson. All other electorate candidates leading on election night have been confirmed as winning their seats.
Chief Electoral Officer Alicia Wright said that the number of seats in the 53rd Parliament will be 120.
“The Labour Party has 65 seats compared to 64 on election night. The National Party has 33 seats compared to 35; the Māori Party has two seats; ACT and Green Party remain unchanged with 10 seats each,” she said.
National Party’s Gerry Brownlee, who lost his Ilam seat to Labour Party’s Sarah Pallett has announced his resignation from the post of Deputy Leader. He was the Campaign Manager for the Party during the general election.
The total number of votes cast was 2,919,086. The number of special votes was 504,625, 17% of total votes (same as 2017). 68% of votes were cast in advance (2017: 47%). 82.2% of people who were enrolled voted (2017:79.8%). This is the highest turnout since 1999 (84.8%). The final enrolment rate was 94.1% (2017 – 92.4%), the highest since 2008 (95.3%).
Ms Wright said that the official results of the general election held on October 17, 2020 have been determined in accordance with the requirements of electoral legislation.
For the first time since MMP was introduced in 1996, we have a government which can be named after a Party. This is a Labour government, unlike the previous eight governments, all of them being the result of coalition with one or more Parties.
A win over the Greens
Another victory for Ms Ardern was to bring the Green Party to accept a ‘Cooperation Agreement,’ allotting two important (but not sensitive) portfolios to its two Co-Leaders. The Greens, with ten Members of Parliament, will not pose any threat to the Jacinda Arden government. Instead, they will be an insurance policy for the continuance of the three-year tenure, should something go wrong.
The third victory that Ms Ardern achieved was to form a Cabinet in consultation with the Labour Caucus and with the consent of each of the Ministers and their Associates, both within and without the Cabinet. This in itself was strikingly similar to that of John Key when he established his government in 2008 after a stunning (though not a majority to govern alone) over the Labour Party.
Reaching people’s expectations
So far so good. But Ms Ardern faces the arduous task of reviving the economy battered by Covid-19 and the resultant heavy borrowing to offer subsidies to businesses and individuals.
She would look forward to the expertise of her new Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Covid-Response Minister Chris Hipkins and other key members of the Cabinet.
Although the Opposition is muted, Ms Ardern must face the expectations of millions of New Zealanders who have reposed their faith in her.
Among those millions are National Party and Anti-Labour voters.
Ms Ardern cannot afford to disappoint them.
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