SYDNEY – The popularity rating of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has soared to highest-ever levels and crossed the 50 percent-mark according to a poll released on Monday, after her much-acclaimed response to a twin attack against mosques in Christchurch in March.
Ardern now enjoys a 51 percent support, a seven-point rise as compared to February, according to the 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll published on Monday.
This is the highest-ever rating achieved by the Labour Party politician since she assumed office in 2017.
The poll was conducted after an Australian White Supremacist on March 15 had attacked two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch, killing 50 people and injuring another 50.
The accused, Brenton Tarrant, broadcast the attack for 17 minutes live and had also published his extremist ideas on social networks.
He had also identified his targets two days earlier and released a photograph of the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, which he had attacked along with the Linwood Mosque.
The prime minister was lauded for standing staunchly by the victims and their families and showing respect to their beliefs by wearing an Islamic headscarf.
She had succeeded in making the pain felt by the Muslim minority in the aftermath of the attack, a national issue.
“New Zealand mourns with you, we are one,” she had said in a much-cited speech following the attack.
On April 10, less than a month after the attack, the government had managed to get a law approved in the parliament almost unanimously, which made it tougher to procure semi-automatic weapons in the country.
A New Zealand royal commission has been tasked with investigating the context of the attack, including the attacker’s background, the role of social networks and the role of its intelligence and security agencies, which have been criticized for failing to prevent the massacre or monitor white supremacists.
The leadership skills displayed by the 38-year-old leader – who had immediately called the incident a terrorist attack, while refusing to take the name of the attacker in order to deny him publicity and announced an amendment in gun laws – was widely acclaimed both in her country and abroad.
Ardern had succeeded Andrew Littler as the leader of the Labour Party in Aug. 2017 and led the party to a victory in the Sept. 23 elections the same year, unleashing what was called “Jacindamania” in the country, which now seems to have reached its peak.