New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern—hailed by progressives around the world for her government's response to the Covid-19, gun violence, and climate crises—has won a landslide re-election victory as vote counting in the country's general election came to a close on Saturday.
The New Zealand Herald reports Ardern's center-left Labour Party surged to certain victory, winning 49.1% of the vote and crushing the center-right National Party in an "abolute drubbing." The Nats received just 26.8% of votes cast, which means Labour will enjoy a 64 to 35 seat advantage in the 120-seat parliament.
New Zealand sees red
The Labour Party, under Jacinda Ardern's leadership, has surged to victory, smashing records and sealing a historic victory.
— nzherald (@nzherald) October 17, 2020
Ardern arrived at Auckland Town Hall on Friday night to a jubilant reception as she took the stage with Labour MPs and her partner, radio and television presenter Clarke Gayford.
"Tonight New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in at least 50 years," Ardern declared to raucous cheers.
Ardern said Labour was committed to building critical infrastructure, transitioning to 100% renewal electricity, the environment, and supporting the nation's most vulnerable people.
"Over the next three years there is much work to do," she said. "We will build back better from the Covid crisis; better stronger with the answers to the [issues] New Zealand already faces."
Labour's result is the best that any party has ever achieved since the South Pacific nation adopted mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) in 1994.
National Party candidate Judith Collins, suffering what the Herald described as "an absolute bloodbath," phoned Ardern to congratulate her on her "outstanding result."
To the left of Labour, the Green Party won approximately 8% of the vote, with Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick on track to win the key Auckland Central electorate. Swarbrick will become just the second Green MP to win an electorate seat in the party's 30-year history.
#BREAKING Labour has broken records in their victory over National, but that may not be the election's biggest upset.
— nzherald (@nzherald) October 17, 2020
Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson congratulated Ardern for "an extraordinary win" and said her party hopes to be part of a "strong, truly progressive government."
Around the world, progressives hailed Ardern's victory. The 40-year-old won widespread acclaim for the manner in which her government has dealt with some of the greatest crises facing the nation of 4.9 million people.
Congratulations @jacindaardern and all our friends in the New Zealand Labour Party . For so many reasons, an inspiration around the world and deservedly making history today #NZElection2020 pic.twitter.com/uLLeHDCMoe
— Lisa Nandy (@lisanandy) October 17, 2020
Foremost among these is the Covid-19 pandemic, which as of Saturday has claimed just 25 lives in the country. In stark contrast, the U.S. state of Alabama, which has the same population as New Zealand, has lost more than 100 times as many people to Covid-19.
Ardern's government has also passed landmark climate legislation that commits the nation to reduce its carbon emissions to zero over the next 30 years, and it drew applause from U.S. gun control advocates when it responded to the March 15, 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre by banning assault weapons just six days later.
Inevitably, envious progressive observers in the U.S. drew comparisons between Ardern and President Donald Trump, who John Nichols, the national affairs correspondent at The Nation, called "polar opposites"
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is the polar opposite of Donald Trump.
Both up for re-election in 2020.#jacindaardern just won with the largest landslide NZ has seen in 74 years.
So if the equation is right, shouldn’t Trump lose by the largest landslide in 74 year? pic.twitter.com/jClywsAFWI
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) October 17, 2020