At Saturday’s final vote count, Ardern’s center-left Labor Party garnered 49.1 percent of the vote, and is projected to have 64 seats in parliament – a rare concurrent majority.
The center-right opposition party, the National Party, won 26.8 percent of the vote, taking just 35 seats in the 120-seat assembly.
The initial election will be held in September but was postponed for a month following the resurgence of the Covid-19 outbreak.
In the lead-up to Saturday’s vote, more than a million people voted in the preliminary ballot, which opens on October 3.
New Zealanders were also asked to vote in two referendums held in conjunction with the general election – the legalization of lethal injection (euthanasia) and the recreational use of marijuana.
Get a majority in parliament
The final count by the Election Commission also gave ACT New Zealand 8 percent of the vote (10 seats projection), the Green Party 7.6 percent (10), the Maori Party 1 percent (1) and others 7.7 percent (0).
Ardern, 40, said to supporters after winning: “New Zealand has given Labor its biggest support in nearly 50 years. We will not take your support for granted.
“And I can promise you all that we will be the state run party for every New Zealand citizen.”
National Party (NAT) leader Judith Collins congratulated Ardern and promised his party would be a “strong opposition”.
“Three years will pass in the blink of an eye,” he said, referring to the next election. “We will back.”
No party has managed to win a simultaneous majority in New Zealand since the country adopted a voting system called Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) in 1996.
Ardern, who dubbed election this time ” Election Covid “, promised to make more climate-friendly policies, increase funding for underprivileged schools, and raise income taxes for those with high incomes.
A majority in parliament could be Jacinda Ardern’s toughest challenge
Analisa Josh van Veen, columnist politician
Ardern’s ability to make New Zealanders feel safe during the pandemic has been a major factor in his landslide victory.
Previously, there was a very real perception that Ardern could become prime minister for a period because there was a sense of dissatisfaction with him.
In his first term, Ardern relied on support from the populist New Zealand First Party and the center-left Greens to form a government.
Now, with New Zealand First not making it back into parliament, and the Greens not required to reach a majority, it can do it alone.
But whether he will do it is another question. Ardern’s leadership style is a leadership style that prefers compromise and consensus.
He will realize that although voters have already given him a majority, this is more due to the peculiarities of the Proportional Mixed Member Council (MMP) representation voting system – a system that asks people to vote twice, for the party of their choice and for its electorate, or constituency, Board Members – rather than its popularity.
The Labor Party was helped by the fact that thousands of votes were “wasted” on unrepresented parties. This sound is ignored when allocating seats. As a result, this meant that the Labor Party could secure a majority in Parliament with just under 50 percent of the vote.
It is likely that the 2020 election results are an aberration, and will not lead to permanent changes in New Zealand’s political culture.
In the next election, Labor may have to rely again on the Greens or other parties to maintain power.
If he takes a more long-term perspective, Ardern may be inclined to stick with the Greens by offering them posts in the next government. This will prevent criticism from the left.
However, it’s still uncertain what Ardern will do with his second term. The Labor Campaign lacks new ideas and policies.
In 2017, he promised to lead a “transforming government” but failed to deliver on this during his tenure. In fact, child poverty and homelessness have worsened under his rule.
Although motivated by a belief in social justice, Ardern has a conservative disposition that discourages him from accepting the kind of radical policies needed to address structural inequalities.
Paradoxically, it was his conservative approach that led many New Zealanders to vote for the Labor Party.
Despite having the greatest mandate of every prime minister in modern history, he will find it extremely difficult to reconcile the demands of a prosperous middle class voter with the poor.
One of the big issues during the campaign was the Green Party’s proposal for a wealth tax. Ardern emphatically rejects this, much to the frustration of his progressive supporters.
For most of 2020, New Zealand has been busy fighting Covid-19. Ardern’s success in bringing together the “team of five million” – a reference to his country’s population – is testament to his extraordinary abilities.
But once the virus is under control, attention turns to other issues such as unemployment and affordable housing. Voters now look to him to solve the problem. It is not an easy task.