Election 2020 results: The Verdict – our experts on the results


Our political experts share their thoughts on the election results.

Audrey Young, NZ Herald political editor

It’s a triumph for Jacinda Ardern which was always expected but absolute carnage for National to an extent that was not predicted.

Full marks to Labour for an extremely well-organised campaign – and of course for its record in responding to Covid this year.

There is more to it, however, than just a red tide for Ardern.

Judith Collins was put in to save the furniture but appears to have failed.

The utter rejection of National by the electorate will require a top to bottom reform of the party and some proper accountability taken for what has happened.

Even John Key and Bill English need to question their legacy and how it was so easily trashed in such a short time.

A good old-fashioned purge might be on the cards.

Claire Trevett, NZ Herald senior political writer

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern won an election she deserved to win. It was a resounding endorsement of her leadership through Covid-19 – and a sense she deserved a second term.

Ardern campaigned hard on her record with Covid-19, urging voters to choose stability and certainty and to give her a strong mandate to move without being impeded by other parties.

She got her wish. She is likely to bring the Green Party on board whether she needs them or not, but she will do that as quickly as possible. The country cannot afford to pause for weeks for negotiations, as happened after the last election.

Getting her wish was made much easier by the instability within the National Party which resulted in a catastrophic result.

If Collins’ survives, she will have the massive task of trying to build the caucus into a cohesive and disciplined unit, and winning back the trust of New Zealand voters.

With a result of less than 30 per cent, that is a very big ‘if.’

Simon Wilson, NZ Herald senior writer

An historic win: the country has said thank you to Jacinda Ardern and her Government for their exceptional leadership under pressure. It feels very right.

But the victory wasn’t inevitable just because there was a Covid pandemic. Labour and the Greens had a comfortable lead over National and Act when the virus struck. And as we’ve seen so tragically, Covid is not easy to beat. Few other Governments have managed it.

The centre-left has also done so well because National did so badly. Did it set out to prove it had a weak team, was confused about how to rescue and create jobs, and could not be trusted with the economy? It could hardly have done the job better.

And, a bright spot for the ages: Chloe Swarbrick seems to have won Auckland Central. That’s a vote for a good local campaign, for progressive politics and for a talented MP with enormous goals.

Fran O'Sullivan, NZME head of Business

Jacinda Ardern created history by taking Labour to outright victory for the first time since MMP came into effect in 1996.

But the next three years will not be a walk in the park for Labour. There will be global economic recession as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage economies. This will test Ardern’s leadership like nothing before.

Judith Collins will pay ultimately pay the price for National’s trouncing at the 2020 election.

If National had managed to get more than 30 per cent of the vote she may have been able to secure her leadership for another three years. But Collins deserves a decent time before caucus pulls the plug. She did,after all, have the guts to put herself forward after a ridiculous coup, that resulted in the hapless Todd Muller being catapulted into the leadership, resulted in failure.

The party demonstrably lost its moral compass during the Covid crisis. The upshot is that National must now embark on a period of top to bottom reform including at top party levels.

New Zealand First’s wake will have gone long into the night. Can the party rise again? Doubtful.

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