New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, after her historic reelection win she credits with her administration’s success in containing the country’s coronavirus outbreaks, said Sunday that Americans—who themselves will head to the polls to elect a leader in two weeks—should be wary of partisan politics, saying it can “be damaging for democracy.”
According to the Associated Press, Ardern said it was her hope that voters worldwide would be able to come together and see beyond the partisan differences that contentious elections play up.
When asked if she had advice for Americans who see her win as inspirational, Ardern said political divisions “can be damaging for democracy, regardless of the side of the House that you sit on,” AP reported.
Adern’s Labour Party won nearly half of the country’s votes compared to less than 30% for the rival National Party, an unprecedented election margin for the country.
Her victory has been attributed to the government’s accomplishment in largely containing the spread of coronavirus in the island country of 5 million people—on Sunday, New Zealand had counted 1,886 confirmed cases and only 25 deaths since the onset of the pandemic, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
Earlier this month, Ardern announced New Zealanders “beat the virus again,” as the government lifted restrictions put in place in August to curb a second wave of the coronavirus in the country.
Face masks mandates and social distancing measures have been retired for now, as the country detects no community transmission.
“We are living in an increasingly polarized world, a place where, more and more, people have lost the ability to see one another’s point of view. I think in this election, New Zealanders have shown that this is not who we are,” Ardern said Saturday, to a crowd of supporters in Auckland, New Zealand after her victory was declared, according to an AP report.
Ardern’s and New Zealand’s success in snuffing out the virus’ spread hasn’t gone unnoticed worldwide. During the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden—which was later slammed as one of the worst in American history—U.S. Google searches inquiring about moving to New Zealand spiked through the roof.
Ardern’s first term in office has been deemed historic for a number of reasons. Elected at age 40, she’s the youngest prime minister New Zealand has seen in decades. She was the second world leader to give birth while in office, and the first to take maternity leave afterward. Ardern’s speedy nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic proved popular with New Zealanders, and in May a poll found she was the most popular prime minister in 100 years.
New Zealand’s Ardern credits virus response for election win (Associated Press)