Jacinda Ardern Surges to Big Poll Lead Four Months From N.Z. Election
(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has taken a dominant lead in the battle to win re-election this year, with her strong response to the Covid-19 pandemic boosting support just four months out from the vote, a new poll shows.
Ardern’s Labour Party has 56.5% support, up from 42.5% in February, meaning it could form a government alone, a Reid Research/Newshub poll showed Monday. The main opposition National Party slumped to 30.6% from 43.3%. The election will be held Sept. 19.
Ardern has won plaudits for her leadership during the pandemic after her government adopted an elimination strategy, closing the borders and imposing a strict lockdown that appears to have succeeded in halting the spread of the virus. New Zealand has recorded just 1,499 confirmed and probable cases and only 21 deaths. The nation began a return to normality last week as shops and restaurants re-opened, though unemployment is expected to jump as the economy enters a recession.
Three months ago Labour and National were neck-and-neck, with questions being asked about Ardern’s failure to deliver on key promises such as fixing a housing crisis and tackling homelessness. However, she enjoys enormous personal popularity. Today’s poll shows she remains the country’s preferred prime minister by a wide margin, with 59.5% support compared to just 4.5% for National leader Simon Bridges.
The poll is a blow for Bridges, who was recently forced to defend his leadership and insist he has the backing of his caucus. National had 44% support at the 2017 election.
New Zealand will hold two referendums with the general election that will ask voters whether the country should legalize cannabis and euthanasia. They could give platforms to the libertarian ACT Party, a National ally that proposed the euthanasia reform, and to Labour ally the Greens, who championed the marijuana law change. The Green Party had 5.5% backing in the poll, while ACT had 1.8%.
Under New Zealand’s proportional electoral system, parties need to get 5% of the vote or win an electorate seat to get into parliament. ACT has one seat, whereas the populist New Zealand First Party currently doesn’t have any. It had 2.7% support in the poll and would not get back into parliament on those numbers unless it won an electorate.
The Newshub poll was conducted May 8-16 and has a margin or error of 3.1 percentage points.
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