Ardern picks Sept 19 for NZ election
New Zealanders will have the chance to return or remove Jacinda Ardern’s government on September 19, when Kiwis will go to the polls in a general election.
The prime minister and Labour leader announced the election date on Tuesday in Wellington.
“I will be asking New Zealanders to continue to support my leadership and the current direction of the government which is grounded in stability, a strong economy and progress on the long term challenges facing New Zealand,” she said.
Alternate prime minister and leader of the conservative National party Simon Bridges will be looking to make Jacinda Ardern’s coalition the first one-term New Zealand government in over 40 years.
He faces a tough ask given Ms Ardern’s polling stranglehold as preferred prime minister, New Zealand‘s relatively strong economy and the electorate’s preference for stability – in stark contrast to the last 15 years in Australian politics.
She took a playful jab at Australia‘s expense when underlining Labour’s case to be returned to office.
“I’m seeing a strong economy with low unemployment and growth rates that others look to with envy, outstripping counties that we often compare ourselves to like Australia and the UK,” she said.
Kiwi annual growth was most recently measured at 2.7 per cent compared to Australia‘s 1.7 per cent.
Mr Bridges was quick to respond to Ms Ardern’s announcement, saying infrastructure delays showed “Labour and Jacinda Ardern can’t deliver”.
“A government I lead will deliver on its promises. New Zealanders know we will get things done, whether it’s more money in your pocket, a stronger economy, less tax, building infrastructure and roads or keeping families safer from increasing gang violence,” he said.
Ms Ardern has informed Dame Patsy Reddy, the governor general.
Parliament will be dissolved on August 12, with overseas voting starting on September 2 and advance voting on September 7.
Jacinda Ardern’s favouritism should be understood in the context of New Zealand‘s mixed member proportional (MMP) system, which allows minor parties to more easily enter parliament and throws up surprising results.
In 2017, then-prime minister Bill English was all smiles on election night, declaring victory after National won over 44 per cent of the vote to be clearly the biggest party in parliament.
Instead Ms Ardern, who became leader just seven weeks earlier in an attempt to resuscitate Labour’s failing campaign, became prime minister after winning over minority parties in negotiations to form government.
NZ First, led by Winston Peters, the deputy prime minister, and the Green party both currently back Labour but will run separate campaigns.
The prime minister has pledged to run a “positive, factual and robust” campaign, fighting the spread of misinformation online and submitting Labour’s policies for independent costing.
“It’s incumbent on us to deliver the campaign New Zealanders expect and deserve,” she said.
Ms Ardern dismissed the notion that the 235-day election campaign would fatigue Kiwis, saying it was best practice to have a date set long in advance.
“It’s fair and it allows our electoral commission to prepare … (MPs) are all constantly in campaign mode anyway,” she said.
The date – September 19 – places the poll in the same month as the last two elections, while avoiding school holidays and All Blacks matches.
New Zealanders will also vote on two hot-button social issues – the legalisation of euthanasia and cannabis – in referendums timed to coincide with the general election.
Originally published as Ardern picks Sept 19 for NZ election