Jacinda Ardern has refused to postpone the September elections in New Zealand over the coronavirus pandemic, despite calls for a delay from his deputy and deputy opposition leaders.
On Thursday New Zealand recorded a significant reduction in corona cases for the fourth day in a row, with only 29 new infections, 21 fewer than the previous day.
Winston Peters, deputy prime minister, told Radio NZ his party, New Zealand First, always prefers November 21 for elections, and believes coronavirus crisis means later date “makes more sense” now.
Opposition deputy leader Paula Bennett questioned whether the public would be ready for the election.
“In the last few days I have just wondered how ready the community is for the September 19 election,” he said. “Is it fair for them and fair for our entire democratic system to ask them through it?”
Ardern ran for September 19 again in January, and when asked on Thursday he said the date would remain, saying there was too much unknown at this stage to make a definite decision to change it.
“This is soon … to determine where we will be even one month from now,” Ardern said. “I don’t want to make a decision yet, it will depend on what level of alert we do if people can even come out and vote.”
Constitutionally, he could push the date back to the date Peters liked in November, but he had previously rejected such a move on several occasions.
The Ardern Labor Party rules with the support of the NZ First and the Greens minority parties, ahead of New Zealand’s most popular party, National.
The latest polls made NZ First out of parliament, leaving an air battle between the leftist parties and the National as a majority. No public opinion poll has been released since the outbreak of Covid-19.
After increasing pressure, Ardern also announced that all arrivals to New Zealand would be forced into mandatory quarantine in 14 Auckland hotels for a minimum of 14 days.
Ardern said the New Zealand border was his biggest asset in the fight against corona but also its weak point, with the majority of 1,200 cases the country still has links to overseas travel.
Thursday marks two weeks since the country entered strict locking measures, and the prime minister thanked New Zealanders for their efforts, and reiterated that there would be no end to the initial closure.
“In the face of the greatest threat to human health that we have witnessed in more than a century, the Kiwi secretly and collectively apply a wall of national defense,” he said. “You broke the transmission chain. And you do it for each other. “
The government will make a decision whether to end or reduce out of captivity on April 20, two days before the scheduled end date.
Ardern is clear that whatever form of locking easing takes, the Kiwi will only move from level four to level three, and many restrictions for freedom and movement will still apply.
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