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New Zealand Leader Key’s Popularity Decline in Opinion Polls

April 22 (Bloomberg) -- New Zealand Prime Minister John Key’s popularity dropped as he begins the partial sale of state assets and faces claims of failing to monitor the nation’s intelligence services, according to two opinion polls.

Key was preferred prime minister of 39 percent of voters polled by Colmar Brunton for Television New Zealand, down from 44 percent in February, the broadcaster said on its website. His support in a Reid Research poll for TV3 fell to 37.6 percent from 41 percent.

The incumbent National Party head is comfortably ahead of his nearest rival, Labour Party leader David Shearer, who attracted 15 percent support in the TVNZ poll and 10 percent in the TV3 survey. A general election isn’t due until the fourth quarter of next year.

“The government faces lots of challenging issues,” Key told TVNZ’s Breakfast show today. “When you’re prime minister, you deal with those issues and sometimes the public’s perception of them will be good and sometimes they’ll be bad.”

The government last week opened an offer of as much as 49 percent of Mighty River Power Ltd., the first in a program of asset sales aiming to reduce debt and help return the budget to surplus by 2015.

Key last week said he will introduce legislation to improve oversight of the Government Communications and Security Bureau after revelations the agency illegally spied on New Zealand citizens.

Support for Key’s National Party also fell. It attracted 43 percent backing in the TVNZ poll and 49.4 percent in the TV3 poll. Key told TVNZ the party’s internal polling had it at 47 percent.

Labour and its main alliance partner the Green Party together had 49 percent in the TVNZ poll and 43 percent in the TV3 survey.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tracy Withers in Wellington at twithers@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net

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