“If you can’t blame the minor party for putting the hand brake on, then you better make sure you deliver,” said Richard Shaw, a politics professor at Massey University in Palmerston North.
One option would be to abandon her usual preference for consensus and reach as far and fast as possible. The more likely choice, observers say, is that she will recognize that she won in part with center-right voters, and will linger in the center as she angles for a third or fourth term — a Labour dynasty.
At her core, Professor Curtin said, “she’s a reformist rather than a radical.”
Morgan Godfery, a writer and commentator who specializes in political issues affecting the Indigenous Maori people, said Ms. Ardern reflected the political environment from which she arose.
“The Labour Party is something of a contradiction at the moment, because they are more popular than at any point since the 1940s, but they are more cautious,” he said. “They don’t seem quite sure on how they’re going to use that popularity. There’s very little new thinking on housing, tax, Maori issues.”
During the campaign, Ms. Ardern ruled out a wealth tax favored by the Greens, which would require individuals with wealth of more than 1 million New Zealand dollars, or about $665,000, to pay 1 percent above that threshold as tax. Those whose wealth exceeds 2 million dollars would pay 2 percent.
Asked for one new idea to stimulate the post-pandemic economy during the second debate in late September, she provided a conventional response.
“Invest in our people,” she said. “Make apprenticeships free. Make vocational training free. Get them into vocational jobs that grow the economy.”