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Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party secures victory in New Zealand election

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she gives her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she gives her victory speech to Labour Party members at an event in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Mark Baker
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has won the country's general election, with the promise she will tackle social inequality in her second term.

With a majority of votes counted, the leader's centre-left Labour Party had claimed 49% of the vote.

Labour was set to win 64 of the 120 seats in parliament, which would give the party a rare outright majority and make it the first in decades to be able to govern New Zealand alone.

The Labour Party had nearly double the support of its main challenger, the centre-right National Party, which stood at 27%, while the ACT New Zealand and Green parties looked set to tally 8% of ballots.

Opposition leader Judith Collins officially acknowledged Ardern's victory in a speech on Saturday night, congratulating her on an “outstanding result”.

"Three years will be gone in the blink of an eye," she said in reference to the next planned elections. "We will be back," she added, promising her party would provide a "robust opposition".

The election was widely seen as a referendum on Ardern’s leadership since she took office three years ago.

The leader's commanding victory comes after she was praised for her successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her victory speech, Ardern said: “This is not an ordinary election and this has not been an ordinary time.

“Tonight’s result is strong. It is clear that Labour will lead the government for the next three years."

Speaking to the press, added that she was "very pleased with the results tonight", adding: "I imagine I’ll take a little moment later this evening and then first thing tomorrow we crack on with work."