The Labor Prime Minister leads the polls for this Saturday. With some 1,500 infections and 25 deaths, the country considers the pandemic over.
Nearly a thousand university students, without masks, received this week like a rock star the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, favorite in next Saturday’s elections thanks to her management of the coronavirus.
With her face uncovered, the charismatic 40-year-old Labor leader posed with dozens of supporters in her final campaign act, holding some by the shoulders. A sample that the rules of distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic do not apply in the country.
Heading into Saturday’s elections, these lighthearted images, illustrating the very good results of the government in the fight against coronavirus, are more important to Ardern than any speech.
Your campaign strategy, in which constant references to successes in health totally overshadowed political issues, it worked.
Polls credit her with a solid lead over Judith Collins’ National Party.
New Zealand, with its five million inhabitants, recorded only 25 deaths and some 1,500 coronavirus infections and its strategy was praised by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Except for the closed borders and of the economic recession, life in New Zealand was back to the way it was before the pandemic hit. The population can move without restrictions and attend stadiums and bars without fear.
On Tuesday at Victoria University in Wellington, many people claimed that the Covid-19 epidemic had increased general support for a prime minister whose style and relaxation seduced far beyond the archipelago.
At the time when Ardern was triumphing among the students, his rival Collins was participating in a campaign meeting outside Wellington with some thirty supporters.
Collins, the 61-year-old former police minister, defended herself well in the debates, but her campaign did not take off.
In July she took the reins of the opposition – she became the fourth head of the National Party in three years – but only 31% of the voting intentions are attributed to her, that is, 16 points less than the result obtained by the conservative formation in his last win in 2014.
Collins attacks the government for border control failures that led to the second wave epidemic in July and argues that his party will be much more competent to lead the revival of the economy.
But the second wave, which caused the elections to be postponed for a month, has already been controlled and the credibility of the National Party in matters of finances has been undermined by errors in its budget proposals.
While Labor’s victory seems like evidence, the suspense revolves around whether the party will manage to win the 61 seats necessary to govern alone or whether it will have to form a coalition, as it did in 2017 with the Green Party and conservative New Zealand First, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters training.
The confrontation between the two candidates for the top New Zealand executive position is reminiscent of the electoral duel fought in 1999, in which Labor Helen Clark seized power from the first woman to lead the country, Jenny Shipley, of the National Party.
Source: AFP and EFE