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World Expatriate New Zealanders seen boosting Ardern’s election bid

10:45  30 september  2020
10:45  30 september  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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The popularity of New Zealand 's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has soared ahead of elections that are due to take place in September. A Newshub-Reid Research Poll released late on Sunday showed the popularity of Ardern ' s Labour Party rose to 60.9 percent, the highest it has been in the poll's history.

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By Praveen Menon

Jacinda Ardern standing in front of a computer: FILE PHOTO: New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern participates in a debate in Auckland © Reuters/POOL FILE PHOTO: New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern participates in a debate in Auckland

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - When recently returned New Zealander Lara Barclay talked to fellow Kiwi expatriates in Australia, it was her country's success in tackling coronavirus that came up again and again and the crisis role of prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

Judith Collins standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: FILE PHOTO: National leader Collins participates in a televised debate in Auckland © Reuters/POOL FILE PHOTO: National leader Collins participates in a televised debate in Auckland

Support from New Zealand's million-strong diaspora -- equal to a fifth of the country's resident population -- could prove a surprise boost for Ardern as the Labour Party leader seeks re-election at an Oct. 17 poll.

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Vote on 19 September will also see referendums on legalising euthanasia and recreational marijuana.

Jacinda Ardern says New Zealanders have a low threshold for the so-called culture wars seen around the election of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Jacinda Ardern unveils borrowing plan as PM puts Labour on election footing.

"They thought New Zealand's response was fantastic," said Barclay, a victim support worker. "Every New Zealander I knew in Australia bar one ... were super impressed by New Zealand's response and by Jacinda."

Labour is widely expected to retain power next month and hopes to rule without the support of a coalition partner, although the opposition National Party has been clawing back support in recent polls.

Overseas polling began on Wednesday, but a big unknown is how many expatriates will actually vote.

Just 10% of eligible overseas voters cast their vote in the last election in 2017, but analysts say Ardern's global profile from her promotion of issues such as social justice and equality, may draw more support.

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Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern (/dʒəˈsɪndə ˈɑːrdɜːrn/, NZ pronunciation /dʒəˈsəndə ˈɑːˈdɜːn/; born 26 July 1980) is a New Zealand politician who has served as the 40th prime minister of New Zealand and

Jacinda Ardern urges patience, saying: ‘You only need to look off our shores to see the alternative’.

"Ardern's got on to the front pages of world media and has been covered in way that no other New Zealand prime minister has been before," said Geoffrey Miller, analyst at the political website Democracy Project.

"It wouldn't be a surprise if more New Zealanders living overseas decide to vote for Ardern, or may be just decide to vote in general," he said.

Tough restrictions to contain coronavirus limited New Zealand's total cases to less than 1,500 and just 25 deaths, far fewer than other developed nations, and the virus is largely contained.

The quick crisis response follows plaudits for 40-year-old Ardern's compassionate and inclusive response to an attack by a white supremacist at two mosques as well as a fatal volcanic eruption.

She is even tipped as a front runner to win the Nobel Peace prize, according to a UK betting agency.

DOMESTIC DIFFICULTIES

Ardern won't have it all her own way. Analysts say Labour has largely failed on its big ticket policy promises like providing affordable housing, reforming tax and building key infrastructure.

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Ardern , who spent the new year holidaying on the east coasts of both New Zealand and Australia, will host her Labour colleagues in a traditional year-starting retreat in Martinborough. The rev-up will fire the starter' s gun on the political year, in which her coalition government must seek re- election .

New Zealand ’ s ruling National Party won the largest number of votes in the country’ s general election on Saturday, securing a comfortable margin over the Labour Party after what had promised to be the most hotly contested race in recent history. National and Labour had been almost neck and neck in

She faces National Party leader Judith Collins, known as "Crusher Collins' for her tough-talking personality, who took over as leader in July.

Collins, 61, is a seasoned politician well known to the electorate, who is mostly associated with issues such as law and order, and infrastructure.

She has made efforts to connect more strongly with the farming community, but her appeal remains local while Ardern is known for how she portrays New Zealand to the world, said Richard Shaw, of Massey University.

"Ardern has turned that feeling right up to maximum volume, while Collins does not get any play in that space," Shaw said.

About 67,000 New Zealand voters have so far enrolled overseas, election officials said. This compares with about 61,000 who voted in the 2017 election, out of about 2.6 million votes in total.

Voters still have until mid-October to register and referendums on legalising cannabis and euthanasia could encourage more to take part. The majority of those enrolled are in Australia, at nearly 60%, followed by the UK at 17% and more than 6% in the United States.

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Jacinda Ardern fires back at Karl Stefanovic after the Today host asked her whether she went 'too hard' with New Zealand ' s coronavirus response. 'And of course there' s a while to run, I think til we see the full impact on the likes of GDP but we should of course keep in mind, both countries had similar goals.'

Jacinda Ardern in Auckland on Friday. The New Zealand prime minister’ s Labour party in on track for a crushing victory, a new poll shows. “When it comes to the trends, we’ve seen a strong indication of support for what I would say is most likely to be the government’ s response to Covid and the recovery

With the latest polls showing support for Labour at 47%, Ardern has urged New Zealanders in Australia to vote.

"Every single vote counts, including those Kiwis in Australia," she told broadcaster Channel Nine. "They're almost the equivalent to a seat."

(Additional reporting by Greg Stutchbury, Editing by Richard Pullin)


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usr: 1
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