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Jacinda Ardern claims landslide victory in New Zealand elections

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her centre-left Labour Party won a mandate in Saturday’s general election to lead the country for a second term and accelerate its response to Covid-19.

Ms Ardern told supporters after her landslide victory, “New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in almost 50 years.”

“We will not take your support for granted. And I can promise you we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander,” she said.

Voters rewarded Ardern’s centre-left Labour for its decisive response to Covid-19. Labour was on track to win 64 of the 120 seats in the country’s unicameral parliament, the highest by any party since New Zealand adopted a proportional voting system in 1996.

If Labour wins more than half the seats, Ardern could form the first single-party government under the current system.

The mandate means Ardern, 40, could form the first single-party government in decades, and face the challenge of delivering on the progressive transformation she promised but failed to deliver in her first term, where Labour shared power with a nationalist party.

“This is a historic shift,” said political commentator Bryce Edwards of Victoria University in Wellington, describing the vote as one of the biggest swings in New Zealand’s electoral history in 80 years.

Ms Ardern came out of her home in Auckland, waved and hugged gathered supporters. Opposition National Party leader Judith Collins said she had called the prime minister to congratulate her for an “outstanding result”.

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