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New book looks at how voters fell out of love with Jacinda Ardern

Summarised by Centrist

In “A Team of Five Million?: The 2020 ‘Covid-19’ New Zealand General Election,” NZ political scientists Professors Jack Vowles, Lara Greaves and Jennifer Curtin explore the dynamics of voter support and dissent for Jacinda Ardern. 

Ardern’s leadership during the pandemic garnered major support, epitomised by the “Team of Five Million” metaphor. 

Labour’s victory in 2020 was historic, with nearly 60% of votes favouring parties supporting the government’s Covid-19 measures.

Where did it all go wrong? 

Supporters of Ardern were predominantly younger voters, Māori, Pasifika communities, and women, who appreciated her rhetoric of kindness and inclusion. Trust in her leadership was seen as a key factor, drawing centre-ground voters who shifted towards Labour due to their pandemic response.

However, traditional Labour opponents, such as farmers, employers, the self-employed, and high-income earners, remained resistant.

The authors conclude that, while Labour’s 2020 victory was significant, it was largely a temporary shift influenced by the crisis. The subsequent rise of inflation, leadership changes, and the diminishing impact of COVID eroded this support. 

By 2023, political dynamics shifted back to a more balanced contest between Labour and National, with economic concerns at the forefront of voter priorities.

In summary, the book concludes Ardern’s initial success was rooted in her pandemic response, but traditional political and economic divides re-emerged as the immediate crisis waned.

Read more over at The NZ Herald

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