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Dalai Lama congratulates Jacinda Ardern for re-election victory

PM Ardern on track for landslide re-election win in New Zealand vote

Her Labour Party won a landslide victory in the general election, a resounding mandate that ushers in New Zealand's first purely left-leaning government in decades and may allow her to form a single-party government.

Labour has nearly 50 per cent of the vote - the most any party has achieved under MMP and easily enough to govern without relying on another party, meaning it will get more than the 61 seats needed for a parliamentary majority.

The Labour Party has steamrolled its way to an historic victory, sweeping National out to sea on a red tide and condemning the opposition party to the second-worst result in its 84 years of existence.

Party president Claire Szabo praised the campaign of the charismatic leader, who sparked a wave of support dubbed "Jacinda-mania" when she took over the party in 2017 as it was languishing in the polls. "It's been full of uncertainty and anxiety and we set out to be an antidote for that".

"For those amongst you who may not have supported Labour you I say thank you". The opposition conservative National Party scored 27 percent of votes and is down to 35 seats from the 54 it secured in the previous general election.

Of Ardern's current coalition partners, the nationalist New Zealand First Party had 2.6 percent and the Green Party 7.6 percent.

A month after new COVID-19 infections in Auckland, the election was delayed, which led to a second lockdown in the country's largest city. It's the best showing for the Labour party in at least 50 years.

New Zealand eliminated community transmission for 102 days before a new cluster was discovered in August in Auckland. No new community cases have been reported since late September.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson congratulated Ardern for "an extraordinary win" and said her party hopes to be part of a "strong, truly progressive government". No party has won an outright majority since the country introduced "mixed-member proportional representation" in 1996.

Mr Peters, popularly known just by his given name Winston or Winnie, was first elected in 1979 representing the centre-right National Party before establishing his own populist New Zealand First party 14 years later.

Collins, who took over the National Party in July after a period of turmoil when the party had three leaders in three months, said the false start had cost her campaign momentum.

"Congratulations on your result because it is, I believe, an outstanding result for the Labour Party".

The new government will not have much time to celebrate its victory as it turns its focus to preventing fresh outbreaks of COVID-19 and easing the pressure on the economy. Debt is forecast to rise to 56% of gross domestic product from less than 20% before the pandemic.

Labour is seeking a second term on the back of Ardern's success in containing COVID-19, while Collins argues she is best placed tackle the post-pandemic financial challenges.

Life is back to normal in New Zealand, but its borders are still shut, its tourism sector is bleeding and economists predict a lasting recession after the harsh lockdowns. The weakening global economic outlook is likely to weigh on goods exports, and unemployment is seen rising following the expiry of wage subsidies paid by the government.

Voting has ended, and the Electoral Commission is expected to begin releasing preliminary results shortly.

Likewise, the results of referendum questions on legalizing the recreational use of Cannabis and "assisted dying" which accompanied the election day ballot will not be published for two weeks.