Jacindamania strikes again. On Saturday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led her Labour Party to its greatest election victory in over 50 years, one that offers some clear lessons to politicians on this side of the Tasman.
First: keeping your citizens safe during a pandemic is a major vote winner. Immediately before COVID-19 struck, the NZ Labour Party led the National Party 42.5% to 37%. The election landslide saw Labour triumph 49% to 27%. In other words, the gap widened from 5.5% pre-COVID to a remarkable 22% by election day. That was despite the New Zealand economy contracting by a frightening 12% in the June quarter.
The determination of the premiers of Queensland and Western Australia to keep their borders shut shows that they recognise the huge electoral benefits of controlling the disease. President Donald Trump either never had that realisation or decided that it was all too hard in the land of the free.