Jacinda Ardern On Track For A 'Historic' Election Win Tomorrow

Cheryl Sanders
October 17, 2020

"There is reason, I hope, for all of you to look to New Zealand and feel proud - but also, feel willing to keep pushing us to do more, to be more".

A former lawyer, Collins served as a minister when National was in power and prides herself on a blunt, no-nonsense approach, a contrast to Ardern's empathetic style. The 40-year-old, who became a mother less than a year into her prime ministership, also won acclaim at home and overseas for her compassionate response after a lone terrorist shot dead 51 Muslim worshippers in the southern city of Christchurch in March last year. Seven seats are reserved for Indigenous Maori candidates in the 120-seat national parliament.

Ms Ardern's popularity as preferred prime minister has jumped to 55 per cent, leaving Ms Collins behind at 20 per cent.

And yet as Ardern talks in uplifting tones about her plans to address mental health and climate change, she never mentions what many around the world consider her greatest success: leading the effort to stamp out the coronavirus from the nation's shores.

Ardern captured global attention in 2017 by swiftly reviving her center-left party's fortunes when she took over as leader weeks ahead of the last election.

Ardern, right, walks with Imam Gamal Fouda from the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch on September 24, 2020, where she unveiled a plaque in memory of the victims of the March 2019 Christchurch terror attack.

Analysts have said the pandemic has helped the Ardern government avoid greater scrutiny over its failures to reduce child poverty and build more affordable housing.

Yet she doubted there will be any change in New Zealand policy toward China after the election. She shut the borders and outlined an ambitious goal of eliminating the virus entirely rather than just trying to control its spread. A small outbreak in Auckland led to lockdown restrictions being reimposed in the country's largest city in August, with looser rules elsewhere.

Stephen Jacobi, a longtime China analyst and executive director of the New Zealand International Business Forum, said that no matter who wins, he does not expect to see a major shift in New Zealand-China relations. The only new cases found recently have been among returning travellers, who are in quarantine.

The Auckland outbreak delayed the election, originally scheduled for Sept. 19, but there have been no cases of coronavirus transmission in the community since late September.

About 3.5 million people are expected to vote in Saturday's poll.

A referendum on whether to enact Seymour's End of Life Choice bill on euthanasia is also part of this year's election, along with a referendum on whether to legalize recreational cannabis.

Countries that allow some form of euthanasia include Canada, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and Colombia. Other countries that have legalized recreational marijuana include Canada, South Africa, Uruguay and Georgia, plus a number of US states. She joined the Labour Party at age 18 and worked as an advisor to then-Prime Minister Helen Clark. A position paper from her foundation argues that Indigenous Maoris have faced disproportionate and excessive punishment from the legal system when caught with the drug.

A vote in favour of euthanasia would see new laws automatically go into effect while a vote for marijuana would still require lawmakers to pass new legislation.

Other reports by iNewsToday