New Zealand heads for its ‘most leftwing government’ in decades

New Zealand heads for its ‘most leftwing government’ in decades

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s success in containing Covid-19 helps give Labour significant poll lead

Jacinda Ardern is poised to win a second term in office on Saturday, with polls showing the Labour party enjoying a commanding lead over the centre-right National party.

The 40-year-old New Zealand prime minister, who rode to power in 2017 on a wave of popular support dubbed “Jacinda-mania”, has benefited from strong public backing for her leadership, during both the Covid-19 crisis and following the murder of 51 Muslims in Christchurch by a far-right extremist last year.

The latest opinion poll puts Labour on 47 per cent and the National party on 32 per cent. If that outcome is replicated on election day, Labour will be just a single seat short of winning a majority for the first time since 1996.

“The most probable result is a Labour-Green coalition government, which would be the most leftwing government New Zealand has had since the early 1970s,” said Grant Duncan, professor of politics at Massey University in Auckland. “I just don’t see a pathway to power for the Nationals.”