Jacinda Ardern promises to govern 'for every New Zealander' after landslide election victory

Early projections indicate New Zealanders have handed Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party a parliamentary majority in the country's election.

Jacinda Ardern has agreed to reopening travel with Australia from early next year.

Jacinda Ardern has agreed to reopening travel with Australia from early next year. Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Labour party have surged to a huge victory in New Zealand's general election. 

Ms Ardern's centre-left Labour Party was on track to win almost 50 cent per cent of the vote as results rolled in on Saturday, while the opposition National party, led by Judith Collins, languished under 30 per cent.

With 98 per cent of the votes counted, as of 10pm on Saturday, the Labour Party was on 49 per cent - on track to be the biggest single-party haul inat least 50 years. 

Labour Party leader and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claims victory during the Labor Party Election Night Function in Auckland on  17 October.
Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

In her victory speech, Ms Ardern said her second-term government would govern for every New Zealander.

"Tonight, New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in at least 50 years," she said, to rapturous applauase at Auckland Town Hall. 

"For that I have two words - thank you.

"To those amongst you who may not have supported Labour before - and the results tell me there were a few of you - to you, I say thank you. We will not take your support for granted.

"And I can promise you, we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander."

Projections indicate Labour could win more than 60 seats in the 120-member parliament, meaning it could govern with a majority for the first time since the country adopted mixed-member proportional voting in 1996. 

Ms Collins took to the stage in Auckland to concede defeat with just over 70 per cent of votes counted. 

While she congratulated Ms Ardern on the win, she also said the government would need to do better to navigate the economic wreckage of the coronavirus crisis. 

'Thank you': Jacinda Ardern wins in landslide re-election

"To Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who I have phoned, congratulations on your result. Which has been an outstanding result," Ms Collins said. 

"National will re-emerge from this loss a stronger, disciplined and more connected party," she said. "I promise you, the National Party will be a robust opposition.

"And I say to everybody, we will be back. Tonight is the start of the next campaign. Bring on 2023."

 National leader Judith Collins concedes the 2020 New Zealand General Election.
Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

Almost two million Kiwis, or slightly under two-thirds of the electorate, cast their ballots prior to the 17 October election, allowing the Electoral Commission to count votes quickly on Saturday night. 

Labour entered the evening with a 15-point lead in the polls, and quickly outperformed expectations as early results trickled in. 

Labour continued to take a lead in a number of previously blue strongholds - some party strategists never expected to claim. Deputy National Leader Gerry Brownlee is on track to lose his blue-ribbon seat of Illam, a region the party has held onto since 1946. 

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters speaks to supporters at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel on 17 October.

Minor parties the Greens and ACT were on track to secure increased representations in Wellington, while New Zealand First looked set to miss parliament. 

The Greens are on 7.5 per cent, and boast a narrow lead in Auckland Central.

Right-wing libertarians ACT are on eight per cent - a huge gain from 0.5 per cent at the last election - while New Zealand First is at 2.6 per cent, a figure which would spell the end of leader Winston Peters' political career.

The Maori Party is also on track to re-enter parliament after a three-year hiatus after winning the seat of Waiariki.

Kiwis also voted in two referenda on Saturday - to legalise cannabis and, separately, euthanasia - but these results won't be confirmed until next month.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor MP Tanya Plibersek are among the Australian politicians to congratulate Ms Arden, with the latter saying she thinks people across the world want to see more politicians like her.

With additional reporting by AAP. 

Published 17 October 2020 at 8:09pm, updated 18 October 2020 at 10:51am
By Emma Brancatisano