New Zealanders go to the polls as Ardern seeks second term


Team Udayavani, Oct 17, 2020, 12:59 PM IST

Auckland: Polling places closed and vote counting began on election day in New Zealand on Saturday as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seeks a second term.

Opinion polls indicate Ardern is poised to win, with her liberal Labour Party polling far ahead of the conservative National Party, led by Judith Collins. A record number of voters cast early ballots in the two weeks leading up to the election.

Earlier in the day, Ardern brought homemade cheese scones to campaign volunteers in Auckland and appeared relaxed as she awaited results.

On the campaign trail, Ardern has been greeted like a rock star by people who have crammed into malls and spilled onto streets to cheer her on and get selfies with her.

Her popularity soared earlier this year after she led a successful effort to stamp out the coronavirus. There is currently no community spread of the virus in the nation of 5 million and people are no longer required to wear masks or social distance.

One question will be whether Labour can win an outright majority in Parliament, something that hasn’t happened since New Zealand implemented a proportional voting system 24 years ago. Typically, parties must form alliances to govern, but this time there’s a chance Ardern and Labour will be able to go it alone.

Ardern’s rival Collins says she still believes she can win and that polls have been wrong before, notably about Brexit and the 2016 US presidential election.

 

 

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