New Zealand to head to the polls in September

Ardern’s Labour Party-led coalition in power since 2017 will face conservative challenge

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern talks to reporters at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. Photograph: Nick Perry/AP photo

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern talks to reporters at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. Photograph: Nick Perry/AP photo

 

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has called a general election for September.

Ms Ardern’s Labour Party-led coalition came to power in 2017 and she will face conservative challenger Simon Bridges in the September 19th ballot.

Voters will also decide on two contentious social issues in referendums on the same date: whether to legalise euthanasia, and whether to legalise recreational marijuana.

Ms Ardern promised to run “a positive, a factual and a robust” election campaign.

“New Zealanders deserve freedom from misinformation and some of the negative style of campaigning that we have seen take place overseas,” she said.

The 39-year-old was widely lauded for her empathy after a white supremacist gunman attacked two mosques in Christchurch last March, killing 51 Muslim worshippers.

Reacting to the election announcement, Mr Bridges, leader of the National party, said: “Bring it on.

“New Zealanders know we will get things done, whether it’s more money in your pocket, a stronger economy, less tax, building infrastructure and roads or keeping families safer from increasing gang violence.” – AP