Politics

Jacinda Ardern sets September 19 as election date

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced Kiwis will head to the polls on September 19, calling for political parties to conduct a "contest of ideas for the future" and a campaign free from misinformation. Sam Sachdeva reports from the Beehive.

Speaking to media at a post-Cabinet press conference, Ardern confirmed the date for this year's election, holding to pundits' predictions and common wisdom about when it would take place.

Reiterating her pledge for positive politics at last week's Labour caucus retreat, Ardern said New Zealanders deserved "freedom from misinformation and some of the negative style of campaigning that we have seen take place overseas in the past".

"In the lead up to this year’s election, I believe it’s incumbent upon us to deliver the campaign for New Zealanders that they deserve and they expect, a contest of ideas for the future."

She would ask New Zealanders to support her leadership and the coalition government, which was "grounded in stability, a strong economy and progress on the long-term challenges facing New Zealand".

Ardern highlighted strong economic growth, low levels of unemployment, and "critical" investments in health and education as reasons for voters to give the current government another term "to keep getting the job done".

In announcing the election more than six months out, the Prime Minister has followed John Key and Bill English in giving a substantial notice period for voters - a relatively recent convention, intended to provide the country with greater certainty.

The election date should allow the prime minister to attend the annual Apec summit in Malaysia, while also avoiding a clash with any All Blacks test matches or school holidays.

Perhaps coincidentally, September 19 is also Suffrage Day and the 127th anniversary of New Zealand becoming the first country in the world to give women the right to vote.

The House of Representatives will rise on August 6 in preparation for the election, with advance voting underway from September 7.

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