The Green party won in Auckland by reaching beyond its own bubble | Chlöe Swarbrick

A minor party hasn’t won a general electorate seat in well over 20 years. The result shows what is possible when convention is scrapped I was making toast in my tiny apartment kitchen four weeks ahead of election day. Not that I really had track of the days. They had melded into one ever-extending runway as Auckland went through its second Covid-19 lockdown and New Zealand’s election date was pushed back a month.We were a few months into an insurgent campaign for an electorate seat at the centre of the country’s largest city. We’d built a team of hundreds of people – particularly young people, some so young they couldn’t even vote yet – who, despite their claims to the contrary, were all doing a lot more than the least they could do. They were about to make history. Continue reading...

Continue Reading The Green party won in Auckland by reaching beyond its own bubble | Chlöe Swarbrick

Tova O'Brien: my 'feral' interview with Covid-19 denier Jami-Lee Ross

Like the families of 1.14 million people worldwide, our family has lost people we love to Covid-19. They are people who would not have died were it not for this deadly, hyper-contagious virus. We are in a global pandemic that is at least 15 times more fatal than seasonal influenza. When people argue otherwise it puts more lives at risk; more families will mourn. Covid-19 conspiracies are dangerous. In New Zealand those conspiracies were driven by arguments against lockdowns and misinformation about the seriousness of the virus. As our country was gearing up for an election, those fringe theories were mainstreamed and amplified by a sitting MP, Jami-Lee Ross. Ross had plummeted from grace this parliamentary term: a high-profile implosion and resignation from the centre-right National party, with allegations of bullying and harassment as well as facing fraud charges in the high court. In a final desperate attempt at political relevance Ross hitched his wagon to the “plandemic” crowd. He led rallies and marches even during lockdown when the rest of us were doing everything to try to stop the spread of the virus. He posted misleading videos about forced vaccinations bound to whip up fear among often vulnerable people who were anxious and susceptible. The more people who bought into the lies, the more ticks on the ballot paper and the greater Ross’s chances of returning to parliament – though that was never really going to happen. The messages he was endorsing were reckless, wrong and confused. One march I saw Ross lead down a main street in Auckland had protesters waving conflicting signs: one said Covid-19 is a hoax alongside another which said Covid-19 is caused by 5G. Which is it? I had largely ignored Ross since he came into our parliament press gallery office in July to tell us in hushed tones that he was signing up to this conspiratorial movement. On election night I was in the studio co-presenting five hours of live coverage. We came off-air somewhere around midnight and I returned to the newsroom the next morning for our post-election special. That’s when I found out we had Ross on the show and I was interviewing him. His party had received 0.9% of the vote, nowhere near enough to return to parliament. The interview was legitimate, capping off an extraordinary and destructive political career but nonetheless I asked my producer to give him half the time we had allotted. I have been asked about my strategy going into that interview which has since had a dizzying response – what my mentor and former bureau chief Gordon “Flash” McBride would call “feral” (he meant viral). There was no strategy. It was about giving this guy an exit interview and trying to understand why he made some of the choices he made. And that’s what we did, though not entirely as planned. Ross came into the studio for the interview, sat down and said to me: “You’re going to be nice to me aren’t you Tova? You have to be nice to losers.” I was familiar with this entitled, cloying tone from Ross. No, I replied. I largely tore up the prepared questions. It was never about being nice or not nice, and I did genuinely want to know why Ross had aligned himself to the people espousing Covid conspiracies. He admitted in the interview it was political ambition. He saw a growing movement online and, in my view, instead of using his privileged role and voice in parliament to help those people understand the facts and science, he chose to drive the hysteria and fear for another crack at power. Variations of this story have been playing out all over the world. A global pandemic is unfortunately a petri dish for anxiety and misinformation, but it’s also brought the world together in a way I could never have foreseen in my lifetime. That’s probably why the interview resonated in the way it did. We are unified in wanting each other to be safe. I was just doing my job that morning and the interview did not happen in a vacuum. Journalists all over the world have been calling out lies relating to Covid-19, especially when they’re adopted by powerful figures attempting to legitimise falsehoods. They are the journalists who have inspired me my entire career – journalists who know that sometimes balanced reporting isn’t just about providing both sides of the story. It is simply about the facts – the truth. Tova O’Brien is political editor of Newshub

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Why New Zealand rejected populist ideas other nations have embraced

New Zealand election 2020 Labour’s historic win delivered Ardern a second term while voters punished politicians who embraced populism

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'I don't tend to have communications with Donald Trump,' says Jacinda Ardern – video

Play Video 0:34 After securing a historic election victory, the New Zealand prime minister was asked about the world leaders who sent her congratulations. 'I have had a few lovely messages. Scott Morrison ... I've had the prime minister of Denmark, Pedro Sánchez from Spain. Of course, Boris Johnson reached out as well.' When asked about whether Donald Trump had been in touch, she replied: ' I don't tend to have those direct communications with the president of the United States' Jacinda Ardern eases into second term amid relief in New Zealand at election landslide Topics New Zealand election 2020 Jacinda Ardern New Zealand New Zealand politics Labour party National Party Green Party

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What next for New Zealand's National party and its embattled leader?

Judith Collins had a spring in her step and a high-beam smile when she appeared for reporters the day after a New Zealand election that delivered a landslide victory to her opponent, Jacinda Ardern of Labour – the country’s most popular leader of modern times.“I’m feeling really good,” she said. “Woke up today, the sun was shining.”It was almost as though she had not just presided over a crushing defeat of her National party, which commentators labelled a bloodbath and that culminated in an election night event that was bleak and funereal in tone.National, which had painted itself as the stable, experienced choice for its nine years in government before Ardern’s ascension in 2017, has plummeted from 56 to 35 seats in the 120-seat Parliament.Now Collins – a veteran but polarising lawmaker who often set herself up as the opposite to Ardern’s exhortations to kindness – joins the ranks of two predecessors this year who failed to make headway against the prime minister’s popular Covid-19 response. And while she has been eager to blame the unprecedented circumstances for much of her defeat, analysts said National had also failed to address factors well within its control.David Farrar, the principal of Curia Market Research, who conducts polls for National and will address its caucus at its next meeting on Tuesday, said: “They had seven leaders and deputy leaders in one term of government, various MPs causing trouble, and three years of on-and-off leaks. “It does short-term damage, but after a while it also corrodes the brand.”New Zealand voters generally cast their ballots cautiously, preferring fairly evenly matched governments with minor parties providing checks on the major parties’ powers.In Saturday’s election, they dispensed with that, delivering Ardern, at current counting, 64 seats out of 120. Her victory is not only a ringing endorsement of her leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic, but a stinging rejection of Collins’s National – which struggled to make headway in attacks on Ardern’s border control competence during the pandemic, and struggled with mess and dysfunction within its caucus.National has at times been dismissive of Ardern’s global popularity, pointing instead at what they called her failures to deliver at home. And at one point it appeared to be working: in October 2019, a Newshub Reid research poll had National slightly leading Labour.By Saturday, that had more than reversed.“That suggests voters proactively choosing Ardern,” said Ben Thomas, a public relations consultant and former National government staffer. “Which has to be a reflection of the bond she formed with the electorate during Covid.”Now, National will watch keenly to see whether Ardern – given a sweeping mandate to do as she likes, and with no minor parties as handbrakes on her agenda unless she chooses to work with them – will deliver on her promises.“I hope our country does a lot better than the current government’s fiscal settings will enable them to do,” Collins said on Sunday, referring to her pitch that she would lead a stronger economic recovery from Covid-19. “I feel very concerned for my country.”Her party’s slogan had been: “Strong Team, More Jobs, Better Economy.” But to add insult to injury, the head of Labour’s polling firm, Stephen Mills from UMR, said Ardern’s party had outperformed National on each metric.When asked whether she expected to be the party’s leader at the next election, in 2023, Collins said on Sunday: “I expect so.”But it is her 34 colleagues who will make that call, beginning at Tuesday’s caucus.One National lawmaker told the Guardian that National’s woes could be traced back to the vote that rolled the former leader Simon Bridges in May. At the time Bridges was, personally, wildly unpopular, but things went from bad to worse for the party after his ousting. Some now believe he should have been retained.His successor, Todd Muller, led the party for just over 50 days then quit abruptly, citing his mental health.Bridges has become a cult favourite online due to the freewheeling social media presence he has adopted since leaving the role. But he told interviewers following Saturday’s vote that he was “not interested” in resuming the leadership.Only two other contenders have been widely mentioned. One is Mark Mitchell – a former police officer and private security contractor in Iraq – who has been an MP since 2011 but is not widely known.He told TVNZ on Sunday that he would not challenge Collins’s leadership. “Absolutely not, it’s not on the table. It’s the furthest thing from my mind,” he said.The other rumoured contender is Christopher Luxon – an evangelical Christian and former chief executive of the national carrier Air New Zealand – who won the Auckland seat of Botany on Saturday night.But Luxon will be entering parliament for the first time and has no political experience. He has not spoken definitively on a leadership challenge.Few have come out in support of Collins. Paul Goldsmith, the party’s only senior MP to attend the grim election night event in Auckland, told the Guardian when asked if Collins would continue: “Look, we’ll take stock over the next couple of weeks.”Farrar, the National pollster, said the public would “not be interested in anything National had to say before Christmas”, and the party should use that time to “take a breath” and reflect quietly.“I don’t think the public wants much of a focus on politics at the moment,” he said. “Everyone’s still focused on Covid, and people didn’t want an election.”

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Jacinda Ardern eases into second term amid relief in New Zealand at election landslide

New Zealand election 2020 Prime minister says she will be ready to form a government in two to three weeks as New Zealanders enjoy return to normal life • New Zealand Greens on the rise after voters return to the fold • Opinion: New Zealanders have recognised their good luck

Continue Reading Jacinda Ardern eases into second term amid relief in New Zealand at election landslide

Jacinda Ardern's partner serves up food for journalists – video

Play Video 0:24 While New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, waited for election results that would lead to the Labour party securing a historic landslide victory, her partner, Clarke Gayford, delivered home-cooked "fish sliders and venison bites" to journalists outside their home.  Gayford served up food during the 2017 election and said he wasn't going to do the same this year, but said it was a good excuse 'to sneak out and go fishing'. Jacinda Ardern to govern New Zealand for second term after historic victory Topics Jacinda Ardern New Zealand election 2020 New Zealand politics

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New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern condemns divisive elections in victory speech – video

Play Video 0:46 Jacinda Ardern condemns divisive elections during victory speech, saying polls 'don’t need to tear people apart'. Ger words were interpreted as a veiled allusion to the divisive US election, due to take place in two weeks. The Labour party secured a landslide victory with its best result in five decades after Ardern emphasised kindness and cooperation during her first term, and told voters she needed a second term to deliver on her promises of transformational change Ardern hails 'very strong mandate' after election landslide Topics New Zealand election 2020 Jacinda Ardern New Zealand politics New Zealand Asia Pacific

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Jacinda Ardern to govern New Zealand for second term after historic victory

Share This Story New Zealanders give Labour more votes than at any other election in past five decades Jacinda Ardern will govern New Zealand for a second term after the Labour party secured a historic landslide victory in the general election, attracting so many votes it could become the first party in decades to be able to govern alone. Ardern’s deft handling of the Covid-19 outbreak and resolute belief in science and experts was credited with earning the trust of New Zealanders, who cast early votes in record numbers, giving her party more votes than at any other election in the past five decades. Continue reading…

Continue Reading Jacinda Ardern to govern New Zealand for second term after historic victory

Jacinda Ardern's first term as New Zealand's prime minister – in pictures

Jacinda Ardern has secured a second term as leader after a resounding victory in the country’s general election. The Labour leader had led a coalition government since October 2017, ending nearly a decade of National rule. During her first term Ardern had to deal with responses to the Christchurch terrorist atrocity, the Whakaari volcano eruption and the Covid-19 pandemic. She gave birth to her first child, Neve, in June 2018 Ardern hails ‘very strong mandate’ after election landslide Ardern and her partner, Clarke Gayford, paint the fence at their Point Chevelier house on the last election day, 23 September 2017, as voters headed to the polls to elect the 52nd parliament Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images

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Jacinda Ardern thanks supporters amid Labour landslide – video

Play Video 0:54 Jacinda Ardern is on track to be re-elected as the prime minister of New Zealand. The Labour party looked set for a landslide victory, attracting so many votes in the general election it could become the first party in decades to be able to govern alone. With more than 90% of the vote counted, Labour had secured 49%, with the opposition National party on 27%. Addressing supporters, Ardern said: “Tonight New Zealand has shown the Labour party its biggest support in 50 years.” Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party set for victory in New Zealand election Topics Jacinda Ardern New Zealand New Zealand politics New Zealand election 2020

Continue Reading Jacinda Ardern thanks supporters amid Labour landslide – video

Jacinda Ardern hails 'very strong mandate' after New Zealand election landslide

New Zealand election 2020 With more than 90% of vote counted Labour expected to secure 64 of 120 seats Follow the results live Play Video 0:54 Jacinda Ardern thanks supporters amid Labour landslide – video Jacinda Ardern will govern New Zealand for a second term after the Labour party secured a landslide victory in the general election, attracting so many votes that it could become the first party in decades to be able to govern alone. With more than 90% of the vote counted, Labour had secured 49%, with the opposition National party on 27%. Labour was expected to win 64 of the 120 seats in parliament, and National, 35. It is the best result for the Labour party in 50 years. The leader of the opposition, Judith Collins, congratulated Ardern on the “outstanding result” on Saturday night. Speaking to supporters at Auckland town hall minutes later, Ardern thanked the nation for the strong mandate. She said elections “don’t have to be divisive” and promised to govern with positivity. “I cannot imagine a people I would feel more privileged to work on behalf of, to work alongside and to be prime minister for,” she said to cheers. “Tonight’s result does give Labour a very strong and a very clear mandate.” It is an extraordinary night for Labour, which might not have to rely on a minor party to form a government. The vote had become a referendum on Ardern’s leadership of the country since her sudden ascension to power three years ago. The dismal results for her opponents suggested New Zealanders had rewarded her for her deft handling of the pandemic, which has so far spared the country the worst of Covid-19, although it is now in a recession. Labour’s strong lead began early on in the night, but as the hours passed the commanding lead continued. For months, opinion polls had pointed to a Labour victory, with the latest poll showing Labour 15 points ahead of National, which has been beleaguered by infighting and disunity. A record number of voters – more than 1.7 million – cast their ballots in advance, accounting for almost half of the roughly 3.5 million New Zealanders on the electoral rolls. Collins – National’s third leader this year, having taken over just three months ago – often preferred to criticise Ardern’s handling of the pandemic or plans for economic recovery, rather than promote her own policies. After coming to power in 2017 Ardern drew a mixed response in the polls. But she has since risen to become New Zealand’s most popular prime minister of modern times, steering the country through crisis after crisis, including Covid-19. Although New Zealand is now in its worst recession in decades, Ardern’s decision to close the borders and enforce a nationwide lockdown meant fewer than 2,000 people become infected with coronavirus and 25 people died. Ardern, who has become globally famous as a progressive leader, emphasised kindness and cooperation during her first term, and told voters she needed a second term to deliver on her promises of transformational change. During her first term, she banned future oil and gas exploration, increased paid parental leave, raised the minimum wage, and increased benefits for the most deprived New Zealanders. But she failed to deliver on some of her key pledges. She ditched the KiwiBuild affordable housing scheme (fewer than 500 homes were built out of an original 100,000 pledged), scrapped a proposed capital gains tax, and made minimal headway on child poverty. She defended her progressive record on Friday, telling an interviewer that change would not happen overnight. “I am not finished yet ... I take some flattery in the idea that I would resolve a decades-long problem in three years but I can’t,” she told Radio New Zealand, of her child poverty record. A second term brings with it a slew of challenges for the prime minister, with the country facing a recession, poverty and benefit figures on the rise and climate-related weather events becoming more common. Labour’s ‘dangerous strategy’ Ardern’s image and popularity have been at the forefront of Labour’s re-election bid, with one Labour social media ad saying a vote for the party would allow New Zealand to “Keep Jacinda” as one of the top 10 reasons to vote for them. Analysts said it was a risky strategy for the party in the long term. “It’s not clear what they’ve done and what they’re still planning to do,” said Jennifer Lees-Marshment, a politics professor from Auckland University. “She’s not trying to win a mandate, she’s not trying to win anyone over, so while this appears safe for Labour, it’s actually a very dangerous strategy.” Susan St John, a researcher for Child Poverty Action Group, said the Ardern government had failed to rein in excessive wealth, to the detriment of the country’s poorest. “There have been small improvements to low incomes but no transformative step changes,” St John said. “Government promises on prioritising child poverty led to very modest reduction targets that are looking less achievable on the current settings amid the Covid-19 recession.” Election fatigue was pronounced throughout the long weeks of campaigning, with voters and politicians alike seeming to have no appetite for dog-eat-dog politics in the midst of a global pandemic. But it was Labour’s promise to deliver “stability” for voters – usually a National party slogan – that proved decisive, with many New Zealanders feeling too uncertain to shake up the government after such a trying year. Ardern has promised to halve child poverty by 2030, tackle the climate crisis and build more state housing. She has also promised to resuscitate the economy after a strict seven-week nationwide lockdown. Collins crushed While Collins, a veteran politician, was a known quantity, she was also divisive – loved and loathed in equal measure. Her upbeat energy appeared to flag in the final week of the campaign as her defeat looked ever more certain, and she will now likely face a fight for the leadership of her party.

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Jacinda Ardern saves best for last in New Zealand election TV debate | Steve Braunias

New Zealand election 2020 Jacinda Ardern saves best for last in New Zealand election TV debate Judith Collins has the look of a defeated woman as Labour heads to likely victory

Continue Reading Jacinda Ardern saves best for last in New Zealand election TV debate | Steve Braunias

New Zealand election: voters head to the polls as Ardern, Collins call halt to campaign

New Zealanders are heading to the polls today in a general election that could see the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, strengthen her left-of-centre hold on government or socially sonservative Judith Collins installed after only three months as opposition leader.Labour party leader Ardern and National party chief Collins are the faces of the election to form the country’s 53rd parliament, in essence a pandemic-focused referendum on Ardern’s three-year term.Doors to the polling booths opened at 9am, though a record number of voters – more than 1.7 million – cast their ballots in advance, accounting for almost half of the roughly 3.5 million New Zealanders on the electoral rolls.Restrictions are in place on what news media can report about the race until polls close at 7pm, and politicians have had to cease all campaigning, including taking down posters, and pulling advertisements from TV and radio. The rule is designed to limit undue influence on the crucial day and allow voters to cast their ballot in peace.

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