Jacindarella: A fairy-tale election result beckons for New Zealand’s prime minister

The Economist
2 October, 2020

Jacinda Ardern’s staff ran into a problem after she declared New Zealand free of the coronavirus in June. It was impossible to keep the prime minister on schedule, they griped, because she was constantly mobbed by supporters. Patrons jumped up to applaud her when she went out for dinner. Passers-by hung out of car windows to yell their thanks. At the convention of her party, Labour, one eulogiser declared her “our nation’s saviour”.

Even after a modest resurgence of the disease, New Zealanders continued to commend Ms Ardern for averting the worst. She closed their borders to foreigners and rallied a “team of 5m” (ie, everyone in the country) to support one of the toughest lockdowns in the world. As a result, New Zealand has seen only 25 deaths from covid-19. Many voters, says Ben Thomas, a former government staffer under the opposition National Party, feel that Ms Ardern has “literally saved them”.

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