Jacinda Ardern delays the New Zealand election by four weeks as she scrambles to deal with a coronavirus outbreak in Auckland
- Jacinda Ardern has delayed New Zealand’s federal election until October 17
- The decision was supported by the country’s opposition leader Judith Collins
- Auckland has been put into lockdown with 49 people infected with coronavirus
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delayed the New Zealand election until October 17 after an outbreak of COVID-19 in Auckland.
New Zealand was set to go to the polls on September 19 until the country’s first community outbreak in 102 days.
However, Ms Ardern has chosen to defer the poll by four weeks, responding to calls from the opposition and her deputy Winston Peters.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delayed the New Zealand election until October 17 due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the country
‘I want to ensure we have a well run election that gives voters all the information they need … and delivers certainty for the future,’ she said in Wellington on Monday morning.
‘I do need to provide certainty, a sense of fairness and a sense of comfort to voters to ensure them that this will be a safe election.’
The Labour leader first announced September 19 as the date for a general election back in January.
However, the surprise return of the virus to Aotearoa on the day before the Parliament was due to be dissolved led to an 11th hour review of the poll date.
It comes after Auckland was placed back into lockdown after a cluster broke out in the city which has now infected 49 people. Pictured is a testing facility in Auckland
The Auckland outbreak has infected 49 people and prompted Ms Ardern to send the country’s biggest city into lockdown.
Opposition leader Judith Collins, Mr Peters and one-man party ACT have all campaigned for a delay to the poll.
Ms Collins also says a delay would be both ‘right and fair’, the latter suggesting Ms Ardern is benefiting politically from increased visibility during the outbreak.
The move to delay the election has been supported by New Zealand opposition leader Judith Collins (pictured) who suggested Ms Ardern had an unfair advantage during the outbreak
Mr Peters, a politically-astute campaigner first elected in 1978, has argued an election in the current environment would suppress turnout and his ability to woo voters.
‘Voters need to be able to hear from all political parties about their COVID response and other policies. That is fair,’ he said.
‘But until Auckland’s alert level comes down the playing field is hopelessly compromised.’
Ms Ardern originally announced September 19 as the date for a general election back in January before New Zealand plunged back into lockdown. Pictured is a woman on an empty street in New Zealand during lockdown
Ms Ardern said Mr Peters did ‘absolutely not’ force her hand, saying she consulted all leaders of parliamentary parties without revealing her view.
‘It would be entirely inappropriate for this decision to be based on anything that could be seen as political partisanship,’ she said.
Ms Ardern’s decision means parliament will return on Tuesday and be dissolved on September 6.
Early voting will begin on October 3.
The decision will mean New Zealand’s parliament will return on Tuesday and be dissolved on September 6. Pictured is a police checkpoint in Auckland