On Monday, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern postponed the New Zealand General election by a month to October 17. The vote is delayed considering the lockdown in Auckland due to the new outbreak of the COVID-19 cases.
Ardern has been under pressure from the political parties to put off the election. Political parties are saying it is impossible to campaign in a way that would ensure a free and fair election. Ardern said at anew conference, “Ultimately, October 17… provides sufficient time for parties to plan around the range of circumstances we will be campaigning under”.
An early election will be in favor of Ardern as her success in preventing COVID-19 and keeping the nation virus-free for more than three months boosted her popularity. New Zealand law requires the election to be conducted by November 21. The advance voting will start on October 3. Ardern eliminated any chance of further delay in the polls as her Labour Party maintains a strong lead in opinion polls.
Ardern on the new COVID-19 Outbreak in New Zealand
On Thursday, New Zealand announced that there were 13 new cases in the community and one overseas arrival who was in quarantine, bringing the total number of active cases to 36. As an early response to the pandemic, Ardern reimposed tight restrictions in Auckland and social distancing measures across the rest of the country on Wednesday. She was praised for her immediate response to the new cases.
Considering a population of 5 million people, New Zealand has performed far better than most countries in controlling and preventing the spread of the virus. But the unexpected virus outbreak in Auckland is causing suspicion that the source of the spread was a quarantine facility.