Imagine, a country that likes its leaders trusting science

From a story that I read today.

Jacinda Ardern will govern New Zealand for a second term after the Labour party secured a historic landslide victory in the general election, attracting so many votes it could become the first party in decades to be able to govern alone.

Ardern’s deft handling of the Covid-19 outbreak and resolute belief in science and experts was credited with earning the trust of New Zealanders, who cast early votes in record numbers, giving her party more votes than at any other election in the past five decades. [My italics-MS]

With nearly 100% of the vote counted, Labour had secured 49%, with the opposition National party on 27%. Labour was expected to win 64 of the 120 seats in parliament, and National, 35. It is the best result for the Labour party in 50 years, being hailed as “extraordinary” by the former Labour prime minister Helen Clark, and “mind-blowing” by supporters.

Speaking to a 1,000 people at Auckland town hall, Ardern thanked the nation for the strong mandate. She said elections “don’t have to be divisive” and promised to govern with cooperation and positivity, adding that New Zealand could set an example by showing elections don’t have to mean people “tear one another apart”.

She said: “We are living in an increasingly polarised world, a place where more and more people have lost the ability to see one another’s point of view. I hope in this election New Zealand has shown that this is not who we are. That as a nation we can listen, and we can debate. After all, we are too small to lose sight of other people’s perspective. Elections aren’t always great at bringing people together. But they also don’t need to tear one another apart.

Of course, New Zealand is a fictional country occupied by wizards, hobbits, orcs, and elves but it is nice to imagine that one day the people of the US might adopt the attitudes of that mythical country.


  1. fentex says

    As a New Zealander who voted yesterday this is what I think happened;

    There has been plenty of debate in NZ over whether the possibly expensive option we chose was worth the cost. And our election was a referendum on that -- with the nation agreeing that it was, and wanting the government that took the right steps to remain our government.

    But here’s an important point -- we have three year terms. That means NZ is nimble in changing government -- as the immediate Covid emergency will last a few years this may mean NZ has rendered an opinion how we want to hande the emergency, as it passes, in three years, there’s no guarantee Labour will be wanted afterwards.

    But because I’m now about to drive across the Canterbury plains to play a game of golf in the beautiful country town of Hororata and there’s no restrictions on my doing so, and tonight will be watching a game of Rugby being played in Auckland (All Blacks vs Wallabies) that’s promising to be a good one in front of a roaring crowd life in NZ is NORMAL and unrestricted.

    That’s what we voted for.

    And our nominally right wing major party got completely slapped upside the head because, I think, they showed signs of being tempted to follow the pathetic examples of right wing fools abroad (probably tempted by whispers in their ears from corrupted advisers) -- and were impressively rebuked in electorate votes -- that means, under our system, not only did the nation not choose their party to govern but it rebuked their candidates PERSONALLY where they live.

    Gives me warm fuzzy feelings.

  2. says

    In other news, the small district of Australian Capital Territory returned its Labor government with a strong swing to the Greens. It probably helped that they had huge fires last summer. The conservatives ran on a narrow ticket of self interest (lower taxes, rah! rah!) and lost a significant number of votes. Who would have thought that when the environment comes back to bite you that it makes you want change?

  3. says

    I read about New Zealand’s mixed-member proportional (MMP) system. It’s fascinating and equitable in terms of party vote matching results. And just as importantly, it’s simple.

    Canada had a chance to reform “first past the post” but the clowns in power made the “new option” so convoluted that the public couldn’t understand. They voted to keep “first past the post”. I would have offered a much simpler system.

  4. billseymour says

    Lofty @2: are the conservatives officially the Liberal Party in Australia? I’ve read that “Liberal’ in the party name is used in the sense of “classical liberal,” and that, these days, they’re a lot like the US Republicans although maybe not with meanness as an end rather than a means. Is that right?

  5. aquietvoice says

    @Billseymour, #4:
    Here in Aus the conservatives are actually a long-standing coalition of parties -- mainly the Liberals which are the large center-right* party, plus the Nationals who are further right but also invest heavily in being more local-project oriented rather than national-project.

    Outside of that there’s the One Nation party who are much further right and total fuckwits. They’ve never managed to rise above their enduring incompetence to actually do much, though.

    There are also a bunch of smaller parties and independents out there -- they don’t hold a lot of power but they keep the pressure up on the main parties. (We have preferential voting, so there’s never just two parties)

    As for meanness as a means versus as an end: Yeah, they’ve always been mean but now they’re slowly getting more media savvy, more mean, but less actually capable. It’s weird.

    * well, that’s how they position themselves. It’s more or less true but doesn’t line up well at all with American notions of the term.

  6. says

    @ billseymour,
    As per aquietvoice above, the Liberal Party in Australia are traditionally centre-right but they vary hugely in time and place. Currently at the federal level they have been taken over by various fundies and other assorted far right loonies. Here in South Australia on the other hand they have managed to kick out the far right influence and are governing very much in a centrist manner. The Labor party are now on the sidelines carping on about expensive public works, acting just like the Liberals did when they were in opposition. Some wags call the ALP (Australian Labor Party) the Alternative Liberal Party for that kind of reason.

    There are no really influential left wing politicians in Australia although it amuses Mr Murderoch’s media to pretend there are.

  7. jrkrideau says

    Imagine, a country that likes its leaders trusting science

    Well, most Canadians seem to appreciate it too. It is a bit more difficult to imagine the opposite.

  8. Steve Cameron says

    @3 Intransitive. The irony here in Canada is that major party leadership elections are now more commonly done with ranked ballots, but they wouldn’t dream of allowing MPs, our actual representatives, to be elected that way.

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