NZ oppn elects new leader ahead of September polls


Wellington, May 22 (IANS) New Zealand’s main opposition party on Friday elected a new leader ahead of the September 19 general elections.

Todd Muller has been elected as the leader of the New Zealand National Party, while Nikki Kaye was named as his deputy, reports Xinhua news agency.

“There is no Team Todd, there is no Team Nikki, or anyone else — there is only Team National,” Muller said in a statement.

“National has always been a coalition of city and country, business and community, conservatives and liberals — National is the party for all New Zealanders,” he said.

“New Zealanders need a National government with the experience and management skills to get our country through the worst crisis since the end of the World War II,” Muller said, adding he will focus on the country’s economic recovery and the strengthening of every community throughout New Zealand.

Meanwhile, the popularity of incumbent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has soared in the country following her management of the COVID-19 crisis, with months to go before the general elections.

Ardern, who took office in October 2017 and has since then dealt with two other major crises, has an approval of 59.6 among New Zealanders, according to a survey published on May 19 by the Newshub-Reid agency.

If she can maintain the current support, tArdern, who currently leads a coalition government with New Zealand First and Green Party, could come to power with an outright majority, securing 72 of the 120 seats in Parliament, in the upcoming elections, according to the survey.



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