Sydney, Australia, Oct 11 (EFE).- Former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern backed the country’s ruling Labour Party, which is lagging in the polls days out from the country’s general election, in a Facebook live broadcast on Wednesday.
New Zealand’s Prime minister Chris Hipkins hugs former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after her valedictory speech at Parliament House in Wellington, New Zealand, 05 April 2023 EFE-EPA FILE/MASANORI UDAGAWA AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Ardern, who is residing in the United States as she undertakes a fellowship at Harvard University, led the center-left party to consecutive victories in 2017 and 2020 until she stepped down in January, saying she no longer had “enough in the tank.”
“I haven’t been very present during this election. And that was a deliberate decision on my part. I felt that when I left or made the decision to leave politics, that part of the decision really needed to be to hand over the political mantle to others and to the wonderful team that I had the privilege of working alongside – the Labour team,” said Ardern.
The former leader spoke up as the ruling Labour Party lags behind the opposition rightist National Party in polls ahead of Saturday’s general election.
She urged New Zealanders to vote to improve the country’s future in areas such as child welfare, climate change, health and education.
Ardern, 43, said that leaving politics after 15 years was a “big thing,” but that she still has an opinion as a voter and expressed her support for Labour and its candidate, current Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.
“If you voted for me in 2017, then thank you for that, but it probably means you were also voting for issues of child poverty and climate change … and the Labour party has had two terms in office – long enough to make progress, not long enough to finish the job,” said Ardern.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins hugs former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after her valedictory speech at Parliament House in Wellington, New Zealand, 05 April 2023 EFE-EPA FILE/MASANORI UDAGAWA AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
She also backed Hipkins as a good politician, father and friend.
“I have actually worked with both the individuals who are vying for the role of prime minister and I know Chris Hipkins as a dad, I know him as a friend, I know him as a minister, I know him as a person,” she said.
“I can hand-on-heart tell you that what he says is true. He, for decades, has been driven in politics for one simple driving purpose, through the good times and the bad, and that is people.”
According to a poll by the consulting firm Essential commissioned by The Guardian, the National Party, led by Christopher Luxon, is tipped return to power after six years, although it would need to form a coalition to govern.
After an electoral campaign marked mainly by the high cost of living and housing prices, the poll put National at 34 percent, about 0.5 percentage points less than in September.
Labour showed a rebound with 30.3 percent, compared to the 26.9 percent last month. EFE