Kamis, 13 Agustus 2020

New Zealand’s coronavirus cases ‘very bad’ for Jacinda Ardern at 2020 election -

It was exactly the news New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern did not want to hear.

Two days after she launched her “COVID election” campaign, as the country celebrated 100 days with no community transmission, Jacinda Ardern had to break the sobering news to Kiwis that four new cases had emerged.

Her election slogan is “let’s keep moving” yet, on Tuesday night, she told Auckland’s 1.7 million residents to stop moving, head indoors and hunker down as a new lockdown came into effect.

Up until that moment, Ms Ardern’s Labour Party was a shoo-in to not just win the September 19 general election, but to do so with a landslide of historic proportions.

They were up against a flailing opposition that changed alternative prime ministers so frequently it made Australian political parties look like exemplars of steady leadership.

But the fresh outbreak could disrupt Ms Ardern’s easy route to victory that was built on the country’s coronavirus success.

“It could be very bad for the government” one commentator said.

RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus coverage

RELATED: Stealthy way virus may have crept into New Zealand

Under the new lockdown, the campaigns have been suspended and there’s even talk the election may be postponed.

Labour currently governs in a coalition with the populist New Zealand First party. Add in a confidence and supply agreement with the Greens and that gives the grouping a slim overall majority in the 120 member parliament.

It’s a rarity in New Zealand’s mixed member proportional electoral system for any single party to get a majority of 60 seats in its own right. However, sky high polling for Labour in the wake of the country’s relative coronavirus triumph, with just 1600 cases and 22 deaths, had suggested they could be on course for as many as 77 seats.

RELATED: Jacinda Ardern‘s grim warning as cases rise

RELATED: Jacinda Ardern confronted over coronavirus blunder

On Sunday, before the new cases emerged, Ms Ardern launched Labour’s re-election campaign in Auckland. The country’s pandemic response would be at the heart of the campaign, she said.

“When people ask, is this a COVID election, my answer is yes, it is,” she told the crowd, adding, “It has been our new reality and one that the team of five million have made work in the most extraordinary way”.

Ms Ardern announced $A286 million of subsidies to businesses to get 40,000 Kiwis back into work.

“There is no costless responses to COVID. (But) we are looking to come out in a better position than Australia, the UK, Canada and the US”.

The fact that Ms Ardern was even able to hold an event in front of a cheering crowd – shaking hands and taking selfies, social distancing be damned – was a vivid sign of New Zealand’s success under her leadership.


Yet, just like that, Labor’s landslide is no longer assured.

While the government has repeatedly warned coronavirus could return, that it’s now done so has changed the debate.

Politics professor at New Zealand’s Massey University, Richard Shaw, told last month that the election was Ms Ardern’s to lose, but how COVID panned out would be critical to her electoral chances.

“In the present climate all it takes is another run on COVID-19, a meltdown with employment figures and all bets are off.

“The major risk is if community transmission picks up. If that happens there’s every likelihood that the polls would tighten up.”

RELATED: The week Jacinda Ardern would rather forget

RELATED: Jacinda Ardern shuts down virus rumour

There are 36 active coronavirus cases in New Zealand – small change compared to Melbourne – but more are almost certain to crop up.

Some of those with the virus went to work while possibly symptomatic and took a road trip to Rotorua, more than 200 kilometres from Auckland.

There is also a high expectation that Auckland’s initial three day lockdown, due to end on Friday, will be extended.

Prof Shaw said much could depend on whether the election is postponed, something newly installed opposition leader, the National Party’s Judith Collins has already called for.

“If the election is held on September 19 then that could boost Ardern’s polling because it will feed into the narrative that good systems were in place, it’s been competently managed.

“If it’s delayed, there might be a hope (from the opposition) that there will be a softening of Labour’s figures, that people won’t be bothered to lockdown and they’ll blame Ardern.”


In an opinion piece, political editor of news website Stuff Luke Malpass said Labour and Ms Ardern’s poll chances would depend on how the new outbreak was handled.

“It could go one of two ways for Labour: if there is a full-blown community transmission that gets out of control and clear cock-ups are identified, it could be very bad for the Government,” Mr Malpass wrote.

“However, if it is more or less kept under control and decisively and quickly handled, the Government and Prime Minister will get a lot of free airtime, get to recite the greatest hits from the ‘Unite against COVID-19’ playlist, and point out that NZ is still in a privileged position comparatively.”

Votes could also drop away from Labour if the opposition could pin some of the blame on the new cases on the Government.

Ms Ardern has already been stung by revelations in June that some COVID-infected travellers were allowed to leave hotel quarantine early, a bungle which led to the resignation of her health minister.


National’s Ms Collins is wasting no time in pointing the finger at Labour.

“I am, like I’m sure the rest of the country is, extremely disappointed that [COVID-19] has been allowed in through our borders,” she told the New Zealand Heraldon Tuesday.

She said Kiwis had been told New Zealand was free of community transmission, and that was a “failure” on the PM’s part.

“We clearly have a failure that is disappointing – I am actually so disappointed that we are not in a situation that we have been told we were in.”

The opposition may be wondering if the Auckland outbreak could be the chink in Ms Ardern’s armour they need to try and create a new narrative – one of Labour not being up to the job.

It’s a big task; a recent pre-outbreak poll by researchers Roy Morgan put Labour on 54 per cent of the vote to Nationals 27 per cent.

Prof Shaw said the problem for the Nationals was the outbreak had also meant they’d lost control of the agenda.

“If it transpires there was a breakdown, that might bounce back on Labour. But the opposition are basically just waiting for something to go wrong now.

“Yet I’m detecting almost no blow back on Ardern. There is a general sense that we did (lockdown) once, we can do it again, and we don't want to let it get out of control and be buggered like our Australian friends.”

If Labour can jump on the cases and ride out the Auckland outbreak, Prof Shaw’s money remains on Ardern staying in power. But it will be a nervous few weeks for the PM. | @benedictbrook

Let's block ads! (Why?)

2020-08-13 07:07:22Z

Tidak ada komentar:

Posting Komentar