Glen Johnson

Ardern vs Collins: New Zealand is at a Crossroads

October 11, 2020 Al Jazeera

New Zealand voters go to the polls on Saturday, the culmination of a stuttering electoral campaign disrupted by a fresh outbreak of COVID-19.

A profusion of parties – spread across the ideological spectrum – have presented their vision to constituents. In a world turned upside down, voters have placed a premium on parties that appear best equipped to contain virus spread and limit the accompanying economic damage.

Advance voting suggests that the election may have a sizeable turnout, with 700,000 Kiwis placing votes over the past week. Voters are also casting ballots on whether to legalise cannabis and euthanasia.

The centrist Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, appears on course to win an outright parliamentary majority – the first time a single party would be able to rule since the nation’s mixed-member proportional system of representation was brought in a quarter of a century ago.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the party has consistently polled about 50 percent. That is largely due to its exceptional management of the pandemic threat: a humane, health-first approach calibrated towards saving lives while insulating the public from the economic hit associated with lockdown measures.

As such, Ardern has pitched a vote for her second term as a vote for stability.

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