Ardern delays New Zealand election by four weeks to 17 October

File photo of New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern | Photo: Mark Coote | Bloomberg

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Wellington: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delayed the general election by four weeks until Oct. 17 as the nation’s first community outbreak of Covid-19 in more than three months worsens.

Ardern said Monday she delayed the election from Sept. 19 after consultation with other political parties, to provide certainty to voters.

A fresh outbreak of the virus in Auckland has seen the largest city locked down since Aug. 12 with people urged to stay home and consumer-facing businesses shut — denting consumer confidence while making political campaigning and fund-raising impossible. The city, home to almost one third of the nation’s 5 million citizens, is a key battleground for Ardern as her Labour Party seeks a second term.

“Moving the date by four weeks also gives all parties a fair shot to campaign and delivers New Zealanders certainty without unnecessarily long delays,” she told reporters. “This decision gives all parties time over the next nine weeks to campaign and the Electoral Commission enough time to ensure an election can go ahead.”

The New Zealand dollar declined to 65.30 U.S. cents at 1:15 p.m. in Wellington from 65.48 cents ahead of the postponement news.

On Friday, Ardern extended Auckland’s lockdown until at least Aug. 26 saying a cluster of cases that began in a southern suburb was set to get bigger, and the best way of containing the outbreak was to limit person-to-person contact. Social distancing rules and limits on gatherings have been reimposed on the rest of the country until the same date.

Also read: New Zealand puts Auckland in lockdown as country registers first local Covid cases in 102 days

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