Jacinda Ardern declares victory in New Zealand election

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attends a press conference. (Photo by Diego OPATOWSKI / AFP)

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attends a press conference. (Photo by Diego OPATOWSKI / AFP) - Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Labour's Jacinda Ardern has declared victory in the New Zealand elections, after receiving a boost from her successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The elections had been delayed from September, but were pushed back to October due to concerns over a flare up in Covid-19 cases.

Her party has been campaigning wit the slogan “Let’s keep moving” as they talked up the government's record at being one of the most successful countries for tackling the pandemic.

With a population of five million, there are no cases of Covid-19 in the community, and it is one of the few without the need for social distancing or face masks in public.

Early results show Ardern has won comfortably, with the prime minister declaring victory after 70% of votes were counted.

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But she could also be set to win an outright majority, which no party has managed to do since the country introduced proportional representation in 1996.

The country's electoral commission predicts that her party has won around 50% of the vote - giving Labour more than half of the seats in parliament.

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The centre-right National Party is on 26% of the vote and the Green Party on 8%.

But some analysts predict a coalition with the Greens may still be needed to keep her in power, but she has managed to see off a threat from the New Zealand First party.

The former coalition partners have suffered from an electoral wipeout after reportedly enlisting the help of Arron Banks to dethrone Ardern.

Addressing supporters, the prime minister said: "We will govern for every New Zealander. Tonight's result has been strong and it is clear that Labour will lead the government for the next three years.

"We will build back better from the Covid crisis. This is our opportunity to take on poverty and inequality."

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