Ardern denies Peters twisted her arm to move election date - 'This was my decision'

Jacinda Ardern says Winston Peters "absolutely" did not twist her arm to move the general election date by four weeks.

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The Prime Minister today moved the election date to October 17, after a new outbreak of Covid-19 disrupted the start of campaigning. Source: 1 NEWS

The Prime Minister today moved the election date from September 19 to October 17, after a new outbreak of Covid-19 disrupted the start of campaigning.

On Tuesday, Auckland was moved into Alert Level 3 for two weeks after an outbreak of Covid-19 in the community. The rest of the country will be in Level 2 for the same period.

In a press conference today Ms Ardern said she had three election options given by the Electoral Commission - retain the original date of September 19, move it four weeks to October 17 or move it to November 21. 

She said an election needed to be based on participation of voters and the ability of the Electoral Commission to ensure all groups can participate safely, the ability to have a fair election and "certainty, and ultimately the need for an election to be held in a timely way". 

However, she denied that the Deputy Prime Minister twisted her arm to make the decision.

Yesterday, Mr Peters shared a letter to the prime minister calling for the election date to be moved.

"There is now no ability to conduct a free and fair election if the Prime Minister decides to hold the General Election on September 19," he said in a statement.

"New Zealand First believes we risk undermining the legitimacy of the election result, creating an awful precedent which could be abused by the Prime Minister’s successors."

Since the announcement today, Mr Peters said he was pleased "common sense has prevailed".

However, when asked about Mr Peters statement, Ms Ardern said, "ultimately this was my decision, it's one that I believe is balanced and it is fair to say that the deputy prime minister, even at the beginning of the year, was of the view that that was his preferred election date, long before we had these experiences."

Ms Ardern said she spoke with leaders of all political parties yesterday, and while not everyone's preferences could be met she said October 17 would have been her preferred date.

"At no point in any of my discussions did I share a view on what my intent was because actually my intention was shaped as much by the health information I was receiving and the wide range of other factors, in fact, I think it would be entirely inappropriate for this decision to be based on anything that could be seen as political partisanship," she said.

"That should not be the weight of where the decision sits and so it wasn't. I did want to take soundings to take on board all of the views, but at no point did I give any particular weight to any political party. That would not have been the right thing to do."