New Zealand's opposition said Sunday that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's landslide election win means she no longer has any excuses for failing to deliver on her visionary promises.
Ms Ardern won a historic outright majority in Saturday's poll - the first since New Zealand adopted proportional voting in 1996 - meaning she can implement policies without support from minor parties.
The charismatic leader was criticised during her first term for not accomplishing key promises such as protecting the environment and reducing child poverty.
Opposition leader Judith Collins said Ms Ardern's election success meant she could no longer blame coalition partners for frustrating her progressive agenda because she now had a free hand to do as she pleased.
“The government has got the mandate to do all the things that they've promised to do, so they can't blame anyone else for not delivering,” she told reporters.
Campaigning during the vote centered on the government's successful coronavirus response, with Ms Ardern dubbing it the “Covid election”. Crisis management has defined the centre-left leader's first term.
But Ms Collins, known as “Crusher” for her hardline policies when police minister in a previous government, questioned Ms Ardern's big-spending response to New Zealand's virus-induced recession.
“I hope that our country does a lot better than I think the current government's fiscal policies and settings will enable it to do,” she said. “I feel very concerned for my country.”
In her victory speech late Saturday, Ms Ardern flagged increased state housing, more renewable energy and other infrastructure investment. She also spoke of more training programmes, job creation, protecting the environment and a determination to tackle issues such as climate change, poverty and inequality.
“We have the mandate to accelerate our response and our recovery - and tomorrow we start!” Ms Ardern said.