After being re-elected on October 17 with 49.1 percent of the votes, the New Zealand Labour, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, is the first party able to govern alone since 1996. An estimated 480,000 special votes (from overseas voters and late registrants), accounting for about 17 percent of all ballots, are still to be counted. The final tally will be known on November 6.

Despite the Labour Party being expected to get at least 64 seats in the 120-seat parliament after its best result since 1946, the formation of the new government has been delayed for two weeks to accommodate negotiations between the Labour Party and the Green Party to secure its ongoing support.

Map showing which party got most votes in each electorate (Source: Wikipedia)

Pseudo-left groups including the International Socialist Organisation, the trade union funded Daily Blog, and Jacobin magazine in the US, falsely claim that the election result is a victory for “the left” and that workers stand to win significant gains. In reality, the ruling elite is demanding drastic austerity measures to pay for historic bailouts of big business and the banks, as well as increased military spending.

The Labour Party’s election campaign, which was predominantly conducted by Ardern alone, announced no significant new policies, with the party claiming the pandemic made it too difficult to plan ahead. This was to provide free reign to implement the demands of business onto a population already significantly impoverished as a result of Labour’s previous three years in office. Labour’s promises in 2017 to address child poverty and homelessness have been exposed as lies, with poverty and unemployment skyrocketing.

In the 2017 election, despite winning just 36.9 percent of the votes—well below the rival National Party’s 44.4 percent—Labour was chosen by the right-wing nationalist NZ First Party to join it in a coalition. The Labour-NZ First deal, supported by the Greens, was backed by the United States, which saw these parties as more reliable instruments to strengthen New Zealand’s alliance with Washington as it prepared for war against China. Labour and NZ First had for years sought to demonise Chinese immigrants and attacked the 2008-2017 National Party government for building closer business ties with China.

In 2020, the Labour Party benefited significantly from the crisis in the National Party, which has been profoundly destabilised by the US and media anti-China campaign. This year, the conservative party had two leadership changes in four months and multiple senior MPs have resigned. Its support collapsed to 27 percent, its second-worst result ever.

Labour gained votes at the expense of National, which was not seen as a viable alternative either by workers or among its own core supporters including large sections of the upper middle class and businesses.

Both National and NZ First also bled votes to the far-right ACT Party, which has gone from 1 MP to 10. NZ First only got 2.7 percent, below the 5 percent threshold needed to re-enter parliament. The Greens increased their share of votes from 6.3 to 7.6 percent, giving the party 10 seats. The Greens’ support largely came from middle class electorates such as Wellington Central and Auckland Central.

There are undoubtedly illusions in Labour among workers, reinforced by a barrage of media propaganda praising Ardern as the embodiment of compassion who purportedly defeated COVID-19. New Zealand implemented a relatively strict lockdown in late March and has so far not experienced deaths on the catastrophic scale seen internationally. This was not due to Ardern’s foresight or benevolence, however, but because the government feared a mass movement beginning to develop in the working class demanding a lockdown.