She won. She led. She won again.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been re-elected as leader of the small nation. And it was something of a landslide victory. With most votes counted, her progressive Labour Party secured 49 percent of the vote, giving them 64 seats out of 120 in the nation’s Parliament — enough to give them majority control. It’s the best showing for the party in decades.
Though Ardern’s first term wasn’t without problems — she ran a progressive campaign for election but has struggled, while in office, to realize those goals — her win, declared Saturday, is seen by many as a national response to her science-led handling of the coronavirus crisis. The number of new cases reported per day in New Zealand is consistently in the single digits — if any are reported at all.
Her handling of other crises, including a mass shooting and a volcanic eruption, also helped cement her status as a leader to look to in times of trouble. That’s not just in New Zealand — Ardern’s international star has risen significantly thanks to how she navigated each problem. And she accomplished all of that while also making history as the first female world leader to give birth while in office.
In her victory speech, Ardern talked about our “increasingly polarized world,” describing it as “a place where, more and more, people have lost the ability to see one another’s point of view.” She further noted that “elections aren’t always great at bringing people together.” (We’d call that an understatement.)
“But,” she continued, “they also don’t need to tear one another apart. And in times of crisis, I believe New Zealand has shown that.” Having a pragmatic woman leader certain helps.