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Jacinda Ardern takes second term in New Zealand

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took an oath in English and Maori on Friday for a second term, three weeks after her impressive victory at the polls. The charismatic 40-year-old prime minister also appointed members of her government, a team with a significant female presence and in which the Maori community is well represented. “I would simply say that Aotearoa New Zealand is sitting at this table,” he said, using his country’s name in Maori.

This government team “has very different perspectives, talent, experience and, as in times of crisis, a huge commitment to the country,” said Ardern. Highly praised for her management of the coronavirus crisis in the territory, the prime minister received 50% of the vote, and her party won 65 of the 120 seats in Parliament. The main acronym of the opposition, the National Party (center-right), won 33 seats. His vice president, Gerry Brownlee, who led the election campaign, stepped down.

Ardern stressed that his priority is to continue fighting the pandemic and relaunch the economy, sunk by the impact of the coronavirus. With five million inhabitants, New Zealand recorded only 25 deaths from coronavirus, and its strategy was recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

For her second term, Jacinda also promised to promote infrastructure projects, especially the construction of social housing and investments in renewable energy, and the formulation of policies to continue reducing inequalities and poverty in the country.

During her first government, the prime minister’s popularity was also boosted by the way she faced the bombings in Christchurch (south), where an Australian white supremacist killed 51 faithful in cold blood in two mosques. His compassion and empathy for the victims, whom he visited by covering his hair, and the firmness of his political response, specifically with regard to controlling the possession of weapons and extremist content on social media, received praise both inside and outside the country.

Marijuana no, euthanasia yes

Coinciding with Ardern’s tenure, the final results of two referendums in New Zealand were made official, in which voters rejected, by a small majority, the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes, but were clearly in favor of legalizing euthanasia.

The “no” to legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes won 50.7% of the vote, and the “yes” 48.4%, said the Electoral Commission. New Zealanders were massively in favor of legalizing euthanasia, with 65.1% of the votes in favor, and 33.7%, against.

The newly re-elected prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, pledged to respect the outcome of the two votes. In this sense, it is unlikely that the issue of marijuana legalization will be again submitted to popular consultation during the term that has just begun.

The tight result will, however, encourage legalization advocates to continue to push for this reform. The two referenda were held on October 17, in parallel to the general elections, in which Ardern was re-elected by an overwhelming majority. The leader was cautious in expressing her point of view on the recreational use of marijuana, an attitude criticized by her supporters, although she acknowledged that she smoked marijuana “a long time ago”.

The euthanasia law will come into force in November 2021. The rule will stipulate that a mentally healthy adult can order a lethal dose of medication if he suffers from an incurable disease that can cause death in six months in an “unbearably” painful way.

The application must be signed by your doctor and an independent doctor. A psychiatrist should also be consulted if there is any doubt about the patient’s mental faculties.

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