Home Telescope New Zealand shifts election by 4 weeks

New Zealand shifts election by 4 weeks


Story by Alfred Omenihu

Prime Minister of New ZealandJacinda Arden has postponed the general election to October 17 2020 as the country tackles a new outbreak of the coronavirus. In any case, she ruled out further. In a press conference she reiterated saying “Ultimately, the 17th of October provides sufficient time for parties to plan around the range of circumstance we will be campaigning under”.

The election had been mounting on Arden to postpone the vote amid the resurgence of covid-19 infections in its biggest city Auckland, after the country had been free of coronavirus cases for 102 days. New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston peter called on Sunday for a delay to the election. The mani opposition National Party also wanted a delay, after they were forced to cancel campaign events due to restrictions on movement and crowds due to the pandemic. It has accused Arden of using the crisis to shore up support. Arden said she had advised the governor-general of the new election date, and added she did not intend to change it again. “We are all in the same boat. We are all campaigning in the same environment,” Arden said. New Zealand law requires the election to be held before November 21.

The shift keeps Election Day within the time frame allowed under the law — the latest possible date is Nov. 21 — but it also highlights the national concern as a cluster of at least 58 new cases frustrates investigators, clears the streets of Auckland and suspends scheduled campaign events.

Ms. Ardern’s approval ratings skyrocketed after the country’s first lockdown, in late March, led to what health officials described as the elimination of the virus and a return to life verging on normal, with crowded restaurants, stadiums and schools. Now, she faces greater scrutiny over what went wrong and how long the country will have to endure another round of restrictions.

According to Richard Shaw, a politics professor at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand, there is a deep reservoir of good will toward the prime minister and it is possible that the way she has handled the election delay will only bolster her chances.
“She might have just added 5 percent to her polling by making an announcement that many New Zealanders will think is reasonable, fair and sensible,” Mr. Shaw said.