Jacinda Ardern speaks at the Labour Party's after victory in the country's general election in Auckland. AFP
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won a landslide victory in New Zealand's general election Saturday, leveraging success battling Covid-19 to gain an unprecedented outright majority and the chance to implement her reform agenda.
Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday that she would form a government within two to three weeks but did not comment on a possible coalition deal with the Green Party.
Ardern, who was handed a resounding victory in a general election on Saturday, said she had informed the country's governor general, Dame Patsy Reddy, that her party had the ability to form the next government.
Ardern also said there was no need to bring in any new COVID-19 restrictions after one new case of community transmission was reported in the country.
With two thirds of the vote counted, Ardern's centre-left Labour Party was on 49.2 percent and forecast to take around 64 seats in the 120-member parliament.
No leader has achieved an absolute majority since New Zealand adopted a proportional voting system in 1996, leading to a succession of multi-party governments.
"Congratulations on your result because it is, I believe, an outstanding result for the Labour Party. It has been a tough campaign," Collins told cheering supporters in Auckland.
Her conservative National Party was expected to take around 35 seats in what appears to be its worst result in nearly 20 years.
Ardern's performance beat pre-election opinion polls and put Labour on course for its strongest showing since 1946.
Party president Claire Szabo praised the campaign of the charismatic leader, who sparked a wave of support dubbed "Jacinda-mania" when she took over the party in 2017 as it was languishing in the polls.
"There's no doubt the strong, great leadership we've had from Jacinda Ardern has been a massive factor in all this," she told NZ.
Ardern had dubbed the vote "the Covid election" and campaigned on her government's success in eliminating community transmission of the virus, which has caused just 25 deaths in a population of five million.
The pandemic is just one of a string of crises that showed Ardern's leadership qualities during a torrid first term.
She displayed both empathy and decisive action on gun control after a white supremacist gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers in the Christchurch mosques attack last year.
Ardern again found herself comforting a shocked nation when a volcanic eruption at White Island, also known as Whakaari, killed 21 people and left dozens more with horrific burns.
"No matter what crisis is thrown my way, you will always be assured I will give my everything to this job, even if that means a huge sacrifice," she said this week.
Ardern faced criticism during her first term for failing to deliver on some key promises such as improving housing affordability and countering child poverty.
Greens co-leader Marama Davidson, whose party governed in coalition with Labour during the first term, said the prime minister now had a mandate to implement change.
"I want to congratulate Jacinda Ardern and her team on an extraordinary win," she said.
"The results show how much New Zealanders want a strong, truly progressive government."
Collins focused on the spectre of the Greens forcing Ardern to adopt a wealth tax aimed at the aspirational middle class.
But her attacks failed to find traction and the party looks set to fall well short of the vote it recorded at the last election in 2017.
In a brief early-morning statement, Todd Muller announced his immediate resignation as leader of the centre-right National Party, saying "I am not the best person" for the position.
New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern on Friday urged voters to deliver her a strong mandate at this weekend’s general election, promising to provide a swifter recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The centre-left leader on Tuesday announced Kiwis would go to the polls on September 19, two months ahead of the last possible date for the ballot, when she will seek a second three-year term.
This means Labour, which is campaigning on its record of bringing the coronavirus pandemic under control within New Zealand’s borders, would have 60 seats in parliament, one short of the 61 seats needed to form a government.
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