New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Wins Landslide Re-Election After Swift Handling of Pandemic

After garnering global attention for her country's successful handling of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has easily clinched a re-election.

The 40-year-old world leader secured a second term after the country's Labour Party won the election with what could turn out to be the most votes for any party in New Zealand since 1996, according to CNN.

With a population of just under 5 million on the island, New Zealand notably contained COVID-19, claiming in April to have effectively "eliminated" the virus in its country, reopening entirely by October after addressing another outbreak in August — a stark contrast to what still faces larger nations such as the U.S.

"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," Ardern said in her victory speech over the weekend, per NPR. "I hope that 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" she said. "And in times of crisis, I believe New Zealand has shown that."

Ardern is the third woman to head New Zealand’s government. She became its youngest prime minister in more than a century and the second female world leader to ever give birth while in office.

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Aside from her approach to the public health crisis this year, Ardern came to international attention in March 2019 for her response in the wake of a deadly terror attack at two local mosques. The mass shooting in Christchurch, during Friday Prayer, killed 50 and injured dozens of others. (A 28-year-old man has since been charged with murder.)

In a political move that can seem striking to Americans, where the politics of gun use are much more fraught, Ardern quickly announced that New Zealand would ban the kinds of gun and modifications used in the Christchurch shootings.

Ardern has also made headlines for being unafraid to speak out against the unequal treatment faced by female politicians, including criticizing what she called the sexism implicit in asking women in the workplace if they planned to have children.

When her daughter, Neve, was 3 months old, Ardern brought her to the United Nations.

She told The New York Times in August 2018: “You can be pragmatic and grow an economy and improve well-being and do all of the things you have an expectation governments do, but do it with a bit of heart.”

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