Sydney, Australia, Oct 17 (efe-epa).- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party on Saturday appeared on course to return to power in New Zealand’s delayed general elections.
The ruling party, led by 40-year-old Ardern, was on leading in 64 of the total 120 parliamentary seats, according to data from the New Zealand Electoral Commission.
The Labour Party, according to the results, had polled 49. 2 percent of the votes after election officials had counted more than 80 percent of nationwide party ballots.
The opposition center-right National Party, led by the conservative Judith Collins, had won around 26.8 percent of the votes, with the Green Party securing some 8 percent, according to the commission’s count.
The election commission projected that the National Party might end up winning 35 seats, with the ACT New Zealand and the Green Party set to secure 10 each.
The voting began at 9 am local and closed at 7 pm with voters trickling to their polling booths in an election dominated by Covid-19 and economic downturn.
At least a million voters voted in early polling that opened up Oct.3.
However, it was still unknown if the Labour Party would win big enough to secure a majority in the parliament on its own or would have to depend a coalition partner.
In case Ardern’s party fails to reach the majority-mark, it may enter into a power-sharing agreement with its traditional ally, the Green Party.
New Zealanders also voted simultaneously for two referendums linked to the legalization of recreational marijuana and euthanasia.
Ardern, praised globally for her management of the Covid-19 pandemic, will have to lead the economic recovery of New Zealand.
The virus outbreak has had a devastating economic impact on New Zealand, whose government acted swiftly and effectively to manage the pandemic, including strict confinements and the closure of international borders.
Even with the mid-August coronavirus outbreak in the city of Auckland, after New Zealand had gone 102 days without local transmission, the country has registered a total of 1,524 cases, including 25 deaths, well below the figures for developed countries.
Ardern has promised that she would continue to provide “stability, continuity and certainty” with an economic recovery plan that focuses on “people, jobs, infrastructure, global trade and connections.” EFE-EPA