Prime Minister Jacinda Ardren secured a landslide victory in New Zealand's general election to serve a second term after her success at tackling the coronavirus situation in the country.
'With 87 per cent of the votes counted, Ardern's center-left Labour Party has won 48.9 per cent of the vote, meaning her party looks likely to score the highest result that any party has achieved since the current political system was introduced in 1996,' CNN reported.
On Saturday, Arden gave a powerful victory speech where she said, "Tonight, New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in at least 50 years."
Acknowledging the difficult times New Zealand might face in the future, she said, "And I can promise you: we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander."
The center-right National Party, Labour's main opposition, is on 27 per cent which is probably the party's worst result since 2002.
While results are still being counted, National leader Judith Collins said that she accepted defeat and called Ardren to congratulate Ardren on an 'outstanding result' for the Labour party.
The final result will be released in about three weeks, once special votes are counted, including those cast by New Zealanders living overseas.
CNN further reported that the preliminary count also shows a major swing to the left, with Labour picking up a significant boost on last election's 37 per cent, while its current coalition partner the Green Party is sitting on 7.6 per cent, up on last election's 6.3 per cent
Labour has been hovering on 50 per cent and it won't be clear if a coalition needs to be formed until the final results are announced.
In New Zealand, coalitions are the norm.
Victoria University politics lecturer Claire Timperley was quoted by CNN as saying that Labour would be 'foolish' not to have a conversation with the Greens about working together, even if Labour won an outright majority.
Labour's other present coalition partner New Zealand First has not secured sufficient votes to make it back into parliament, while the right-wing ACT party is currently on 8 per cent, up on last election's 0.5 per cent.
Arden's 'go hard and go early' approach to handling the coronavirus has helped New Zealand avoid the kind of devastating outbreaks seen in other parts of the world.
The country was one of the first to close its borders, and Ardern announced a nationwide lockdown in March when it only had 102 cases.
This is speculated to be the reason for her re-election.
At the beginning of the year, polls suggested National and Labour could be in for a tight competition.
However, that changed during the pandemic.
Despite New Zealand's largest quarterly economic decline on record and a second outbreak in the country's largest city, support for Ardren increased.
Collins during her concessions speech on Saturday, said, "We always knew it was going to be tough, didn't we?" She added, "We will take time to reflect, and we will review, and we will change.
"National will reemerge from this loss a stronger, more disciplined and more connected party"
"I say to everybody: we will be back," Collins announced.
Politics lecturer at the University of Auckland, Lara Greaves was quoted by CNN as saying the high level of advance voting may have been related to COVID-19 as citizens wanted to avoid the chance that a new Coronavirus outbreak could impact their ability to vote on that day.
She further said the turnout could also have been increased by two referendums running with the election, the first one on legalising euthanasia, and the second on legalizing the recreational use of cannabis.
Ardern looks set to face another tough term ahead, as she attempts to address those issues while steering the country through the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
But political analysts aren't expecting flashy flagship policies -- instead, they predict Ardern will continue making incremental changes, CNN wrote.
"Real change requires steps that bring people with us,"
"I stand by my record ... I am not done yet," Ardern said at the country's final election debate on Thursday.