Uhuru congratulates New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern

Uhuru congratulates New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern

President Uhuru Kenyatta has sent a congratulatory message to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand following her re-election for a second term in office.

Prime Minister Ardern’s Labour Party won the elections with a historic margin, winning 64 seats in Parliament.

In his message of goodwill, President Kenyatta wished Prime Minister Ardern good health and success as she steers her nation to greater prosperity and pledged Kenya’s continued solidarity with New Zealand as a valued bilateral and multilateral partner.

Coalitions are the norm in New Zealand, where no single party has won a majority of votes in the last 24 years.

“Tonight, New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in at least 50 years,” Ardern said in a powerful victory speech on Saturday night where she referred to the difficult times ahead for New Zealand. “And I can promise you: we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander.”

Ardern’s reelection was buoyed by her “go hard and go early” approach to handling the coronavirus which has helped New Zealand avoid the devastating outbreaks seen elsewhere.

The country was one of the first to close its borders, and Ardern announced a nationwide lockdown in March when it only had 102 cases.

New Zealand has reported fewer than 2,000 total cases and 25 deaths since the pandemic began.

At the start of the year, polls suggested National and Labour could be in for a tight election.

Ardern had huge international popularity, but back home some were disappointed by her lack of progress on key promises, including on addressing the overheated housing market.

But that all changed during the pandemic. Support for Ardern soared, even as New Zealand posted its largest quarterly economic decline on record and a second outbreak in the country’s largest city, Auckland, prompted the PM to delay the election by a month.

National’s Collins — the party’s third leader this year — pitched her pro-business party as better placed to handle the pandemic’s economic fallout, but struggled to gain ground against one of New Zealand’s most popular leaders ever.

“We always knew it was going to be tough, didn’t we?” Collins said during her concession speech on Saturday.

“We will take time to reflect, and we will review, and we will change. National will reemerge from this loss a stronger, more disciplined and more connected party.

“I say to everybody: we will be back.”

Additional report from CNN

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