New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today urged voters to hand her a strong mandate in this weekend’s general election and promised she would work toward a fast recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Recent polls indicate that Ardern's Labour Party may need support from the smaller Green Party to form a government.
Labour is comfortably ahead of the conservative opposition National Party while support for the Greens has been steady. Opinion polls are also predicting the demise of the New Zealand First Party, the current partner of the Labour Party.
If Labour wins outright, it would be the first party to govern alone since New Zealand switched to the mixed-member proportional representation system in 1996.
A Labour coalition with the Greens would be New Zealand’s most left-leaning government in decades, a scenario that National Party leader Judith Collins warned would mean more taxes and a hostile environment for business.
While life has largely returned to normal in New Zealand, its borders remain closed, the tourism sector is bleeding, and economists expect a lasting recession.
The economy shrank by 12.2% in Q2 of 2020, its worst performance since the Great Depression, and the national debt expected to reach a peak of 56% of GDP.