New Zealand PM delays election after coronavirus return

WELLINGTON:  (HRNW) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday delayed New Zealand s looming election by four weeks to October 17 after a renewed coronavirus outbreak hampered campaigning.

Ardern was under pressure from political opponents and her coalition partners to shift the original September 19 vote after COVID-19 was detected in Auckland last week, sending the country s largest city into lockdown.

She said the return of the virus after 102 days without community transmission had rattled Kiwis and could have discouraged some from casting their ballots in a September election.

The centre-left leader, who is riding high in opinion polls, also acknowledged concerns from rivals that curbs on campaigning would unfairly weigh the election in favour of her government.

After spending the weekend consulting with party leaders and the Electoral Commission, she chose October 17, the earliest delayed date available to her.

Ardern said the change meant all parties would be campaigning under the same conditions and she would not move the date again regardless of the situation.

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