New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on August 17 postponed the general election by four weeks to October 17 but ruled out delaying it any further, as the country tackles a new outbreak of the coronavirus.
"Ultimately, the 17th of October ... provides sufficient time for parties to plan around the range of circumstances we will be campaigning under," Ardern said in a news conference.
The election had been scheduled to be held on September 19.
Pressure had been mounting on Ardern to postpone the vote amid the resurgence of COVID-19 infections in its biggest city Auckland, after the country had been free of coronavirus cases for 102 days.
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called on Sunday for a delay to the election.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The main opposition National Party also wanted a delay, after they were forced to cancel campaign events due to restrictions on movement and crowds due to the pandemic. It has accused Ardern of using the crisis to shore up support.
Ardern said she had advised the Governor-General of the new election date, and added she did not intend to change it again.
"We are all in the same boat. We are all campaigning in the same environment," Ardern said.
New Zealand law requires the election to be held before November 21.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic