New Zealand’s Ruling Party Holds Lead in Final TV Poll Before Election

Bill English attends a National Party campaign in Wellington.

Photographer: Marty Melville/AFP via Getty Images

New Zealand’s ruling National Party held its the lead over the main opposition Labour Party in the final television opinion poll before a general election, though Labour could still form a government on the numbers.

National had 45.8 percent support in the Newshub/Reid Research poll broadcast Thursday in Wellington, down from 47.3 percent in the previous survey published Sept. 12. Labour’s support fell to 37.3 percent from 37.8 percent.

New Zealanders vote on Sept. 23 with National trying to win a rare fourth consecutive term on the promise of tax relief and strong economic management. Labour, revitalized after selecting 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern as leader less than two months ago, is arguing for a change of direction, saying too many people have been left behind.

No party has won an outright majority since the South Pacific nation introduced proportional representation in 1996. National could form a government with the backing of the nationalist New Zealand First Party, which saw its support rise to 7.1 percent. However, Labour could also form a government with the support of New Zealand First and the Green Party, which rose to 7.1 percent.

While the Greens are a close ally of Labour’s, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has refused to say which party he would back if he holds the balance of power after the election.

New Zealand’s currency rose after the poll result. It bought 73.29 U.S. cents at 6:09 p.m. in Wellington from 73.15 cents beforehand.

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