WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has dismissed a 10-point poll drop as Covid-19 pandemic fatigue.
Support for Ardern’s Labour party, almost a year into its second term in office, fell in the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll from 53 to 43 percent.
Newshub political editor Tova O’Brien compiled a list of “crappy calls” that could be to blame for the dip, including its management of the trans-Tasman bubble.
In the three months, it was open, the bubble was partially closed more often than it was open, and fears the dreaded Delta variant could seep into New Zealand led Ardern to shut the bubble until mid-September.
O’Brien also suggests the housing crisis, worsening mental health statistics, nurses strikes, a NZ$600 million ($441 million) cycle bridge, and a perceived lack of support to farmers could also be hurting the government.
Speaking on national television, Ardern offered another reason.
“What I hear from people is that 2021 is hard,” she said. “We all thought that 2020 was the challenging year with the pandemic. This year, in 2021, and I feel it too, this year is hard. I think it is actually the fact that we all have accepted now this pandemic is not going away quickly,”
“The experts were telling us that for a long time, but the hope of the vaccine also was (there). I think many people thought that we’d be in the position that globally, you’d see people be vaccinated, and then we would snap back. The experts again told us it wouldn’t be like that, and it hasn’t been. It is the settling in and seeing that this is not going to be simple.”
The 41-year-old leader also put the poll result into context.
An election is not due until late 2023, but if one were held today, Labour would comfortably win a third term, albeit with the support of the Greens.
Ardern also retains a massive gap as preferred prime minister.
Almost half of Kiwis (46 percent) support her in the job, way ahead of Australian Capital Territory’s party leader David Seymour (9 percent) and opposition National leader Judith Collins (8 percent).
“I am still really heartened by the fact that between ourselves and the Greens, there’s still a solid majority there,” she said.
“There is a bit of time to run before an election. And I’ have never been one to be particularly obsessive over polls.”
National polled just 29 percent, and Collins’ terrible personal ratings could spell trouble for the 62-year-old conservative’s grip on her party leadership.
Parliament resumes August 2 after a three-week hiatus, and Ardern is expected to use this sitting block to unveil more details on New Zealand’s broader border-reopening strategy.
She has foreshadowed an easier path to New Zealand for individuals that could assist with ailing industries.
“There are things we can do to ease the pressure different sectors feel. Horticulture, agriculture is really feeling workforce issues, and we’re working hard on those,” said Ardern.
Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra
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