New Zealand postpones election as coronavirus flares up
New Zealand’s prime minister postponed the country’s general election on Monday by a month to Oct. 17 as the city of Auckland remains in lockdown due to a new outbreak of the coronavirus, according to Reuters.
Jacinda Ardern has been under pressure to put off the polls as political parties said it was impossible to campaign in a way that would ensure a free and fair election.
“Ultimately, the 17th of October ... provides sufficient time for parties to plan around the range of circumstances we will be campaigning under,” Ardern said at a news conference.
She ruled out delaying the polls any further, as her Labour Party maintains a strong lead over the conservative National Party in opinion polls.
“We are all in the same boat. We are all campaigning in the same environment,” Ardern said.
An early election works in Ardern’s favour, as her success in stifling COVID-19 and keeping the country virus-free for 102 days until the latest outbreak has boosted her popularity.
The election was scheduled for Sept. 19 and New Zealand law requires it to be held by Nov. 21. Advance voting will now start on Oct. 3.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, who had called for a delay, said “common sense has prevailed”.