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New Zealand’s general election will be delayed by a month as a result of the resurfacing of the coronavirus in the country, the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern announced. 

“The Electoral Commission, via the Ministry of Justice, has advised me that a safe and accessible election is achievable on this date. Moving the date by four weeks also gives all parties a fair shot to campaign and delivers New Zealanders certainty without unnecessarily long delays,” Ardern said.

The government was pressured into delaying the election from the opposition claiming that it would not be “just and fair” for the election to take place during the pandemic. 

The decision was taken after every political party in parliament was consulted. The general election will now take place on the 17th of October.

“This is why the Electoral Commission has planned for the possibility of holding an election where the country is at level 2, and with some parts at level 3. I will not change the election date again.”

New Zealand saw a second rise in coronavirus cases, having recovered from the first wave in June, as the city of Auckland remains in lockdown.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield explained, “We still don’t have any particular clues as to the origin of the outbreak. Our first focus is on the mapping the extent of it and managing the outbreak, once we have the complete picture we are much more likely to then go back and trace the origin of it. We may find some clues as to where, but we may still not quite answer the question of how it was transmitted.”

Additionally, New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters stated, “Voters are sovereign. Holding an election during a Covid outbreak has the risk of serious interference in our democracy. Voters would be expected to exercise their electoral rights with a dearth of information and that is unacceptable. With a delay parties can now prepare to begin campaigning again, confident that they have the time and resources to engage in a free and fair election.”

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