Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a landslide victory in New Zealand’s general election recently. Her re-election is believed to be the result of her success at handling the country’s COVID-19 outbreak. Prime Minister Ardern’s liberal Labour Party won a historic mandate by securing 49 per cent of the vote in comparison to the 27 per cent bagged by its primary challenger, the conservative National Party.
In a victory speech in front of hundreds of cheering supporters in Auckland, Ardern said she would build an economy that works for everyone, create jobs, train people, protect the environment and address climate challenges and social inequalities. “This has not been an ordinary election, and it’s not an ordinary time,” she said. “It’s been full of uncertainty and anxiety, and we set out to be an antidote to that.”
The win is also the reward for Ardern`s leadership through a series of extraordinary events that shaped her first three-year term: the gunman`s massacre of 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques and the eruption of the White Island volcano, which killed 21.
Ardern has also been vocal about climate change. Last November, the parliament passed the Zer-Carbon Act, which commits New Zealand to zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. “I absolutely believe and continue to stand by the statement that climate change is the biggest challenge of our time,” Ardern told the Parliament in November 2019. Even so, her critics are unhappy with Ardern for not fulfilling some of her election promises, including having policies that have made a meaningful impact on inequality and measures to reduce child poverty.
Who is Jacinda Ardern?
Ardern, who has been hailed for her ‘compassionate’ leadership, became the 40th prime minister of New Zealand in 2017 and has been the leader of the Labour Party since then. She was born in Hamilton and grew up in rural areas, before attending Waikato University where she studied communications in politics and public relations. Ardern joined the Labour Party at the age of 18 and entered New Zealand’s parliament in 2008. She is one of the few Prime Ministers to have given birth while in office. During her political career, Ardern has been popular even outside New Zealand for holding progressive views about issues such as migration and for being vocal about the rights of children, women and the right of every New Zealander to find meaningful work.