Wellington: On Monday, after the new coronavirus outbreak hindered the campaign, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern postponed New Zealand’s upcoming general elections for four weeks to October 17.
Last week, after the opposition in Oakland discovered COVID-19, Arden was pressured by the political opposition and its allied partners to change the original vote on September 19 and put the country’s largest city under lockdown.
She said the virus returned after 102 days without community transmission, which disturbed Kiwi and may have prevented some people from voting in the September elections.
The center-left leader ranks high in public opinion polls, and she also acknowledged the concerns of competitors that restricting election campaigns would unfairly weigh election support for her government.
After spending the weekend consulting with party leaders and the election committee, she chose October 17, which was the earliest date.
Arden said that this change means that all parties will run under the same conditions, and she will not propose a date again regardless of the situation.
“I have absolutely no intention at all to change from this point,” she said.
“This decision gives all parties time over the next nine weeks to campaign and the Electoral Commission enough time to ensure an election can go ahead.”
After the outbreak last week, all parties temporarily suspended the campaign, the source of which is not yet known.
The virus was first detected in four family members in Auckland last Tuesday, and by Sunday, the group had grown to 49 confirmed cases.
The South Pacific country is adopting the same strategy to help contain the coronavirus during the seven-week lockdown earlier this year-isolation of positive cases, contact tracing and extensive testing.
Earlier success brought Ardern’s personal profile to a record 60% and held leadership positions during the Christchurch mosque attack and the White Island volcanic eruption last year.
Ardern’s Labour Party is expected to win elections according to its responsibilities, and no party’s secondary coalition partners-the Greens and New Zealand First (NZF)-need to be in its first term.
The main opposition Kuomintang requested last week to postpone the election to late November, or preferably next year, saying that September 19 was untenable.
Earlier, Ardern’s associate partner, New Zealand (NZF), expressed support for the September option that was under a “fatal threat”.
“Common sense has prevailed,” said NZF leader and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, whose populist party faces an election wipeout on current polling.
Labour s other coalition partner, the Greens, said the four-week delay should give health authorities time to contain the Auckland cluster.
But co-leader James Shaw accused some parties of displaying “naked political self-interest” in demanding a delay, saying they hoped the pandemic s economic impact would dent the government s popularity in the meantime.
“We have been incredibly disappointed to see the National and other small parties continue to use the weekend to bang on about what would suit them best politically,” he said.