New Zealand Labour Party installs new deputy leader
22 March 2017
The Labour Party caucus unanimously elected Jacinda Ardern on March 7 as the party’s new deputy leader, following the resignation of long-standing MP and deputy Annette King.
The 37-year-old entered parliament as a young “list” MP—i.e., without an electorate—in 2008. Ardern’s promotion to deputy leader follows her victory in a February 25 by-election in the west Auckland electorate of Mount Albert. With a general election due in September, the ruling National Party, along with the right-wing NZ First and ACT parties, declared it a “safe” Labour seat and did not contest the election.
The result was a foregone conclusion. Ardern won with 10,495 votes, with the Green Party’s Julie-Anne Genter second on 1,564 votes. Voter turnout was just 30 percent, following a similar historically low turnout in the Mount Roskill by-election last December.
Ardern has been portrayed by the media and the union-funded Daily Blog as the potential saviour of Labour’s declining electoral fortunes. In fact, her election underscores the crisis that has engulfed New Zealand politics following the installation of the extreme right-wing nationalist Donald Trump as US president, which has further fuelled political instability throughout the world.
John Key, New Zealand’s prime minister since 2008, abruptly resigned last December. He had been a champion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which Trump has scrapped.
The parliamentary parties have all scrambled to adapt to the new international situation ahead of the forthcoming election. Labour and its allies are seeking new mechanisms to contain the growing opposition among workers and youth to austerity, attacks on democratic rights and the…