A Team of Five Million?

A Team of Five Million?

The 2020 ‘Covid-19’ New Zealand General Election

Edited by: Jennifer Curtin orcid, Lara Greaves orcid, Jack Vowles orcid

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New Zealand was one of a handful of countries that held a national election in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its policy response stood out as remarkably successful. Indeed, several years on from the onset of the crisis, in 2023 New Zealand still retained a record of no excess deaths. While New Zealanders were voting on October 17, 2020, their country had only recorded 25 confirmed deaths out of a population of five million. Then, support for the government’s crisis management was at its height. Labour, the leading party in the incumbent coalition government, secured a historic election victory. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had taken up the metaphor of the New Zealand people as ‘a team of five million’ facing the Covid-19 threat together. This book seeks to explain the success of the government’s strategy through an analysis of the election campaign and outcome. The authors also address the limits of this approach and the extent to which some voters felt alienated rather than connected with the ‘team’. The election outcome was a big short-term swing of the electoral pendulum. It did not generate a reset of the party system. Three years on, as the 2023 election loomed into sight, the party system looked much as it did prior to the pandemic, and Labour’s success in 2020 was about to be dramatically reversed.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
ANU Press
Social Sciences: Politics & International Studies, Social Policy & Administration
Pacific: New Zealand

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  1. A ‘Team of Five Million’? Covid-19 and the 2020 New Zealand general election (PDF, 728 KB)Jennifer Curtin, Lara Greaves, and Jack Vowles doi
  2. Shock, Bounce, and Reward? (PDF, 763 KB)Jack Vowles doi
  3. Between Selfies and Conspiracy Theories: Social media campaigning in 2020 (PDF, 340 KB)Mona Krewel and Matthew Gibbons doi
  4. Mobilising Voters from the ‘Team of Five Million’: Electoral administration and turnout in the 2020 election (PDF, 312 KB)Jennifer Curtin, Celestyna Galicki, and Jack Vowles doi
  5. Resisting the Red Wave? The Māori Party’s return to parliament (PDF, 282 KB)Lara Greaves, Ella Morgan, and Janine Hayward doi
  6. Who Belongs in the ‘Team of Five Million’? Immigration and the 2020 election (PDF, 1.9 MB)Fiona Barker and Kate McMillan doi
  7. Gendering Leadership and Policy during Covid-19: Jacinda Ardern and the women’s vote (PDF, 900 KB)Jennifer Curtin, V.K.G. Woodman, and Lara Greaves doi
  8. Boycotting the ‘Team of Five Million’ (PDF, 287 KB)Josh Van Veen and Luke Oldfield doi
  9. In the Shadow of Covid-19? Climate change and the 2020 election (PDF, 1.2 MB)Sam Crawley doi
  10. The Disappearing ‘Team of Five Million’? The road to the 2023 election (PDF, 316 KB)Jack Vowles, Jennifer Curtin, and Lara Greaves doi

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