New Zealand PM Ardern holds big poll lead as election looms

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party was on 50 per cent in a 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll. PHOTO: AFP

WELLINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern continues to hold a sizable lead over the opposition ahead of an election in September, though recent bungles at the border may have eroded some of her support, a new poll shows.

Ardern's Labour Party was on 50 per cent in a 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll published on Thursday (June 25) in Wellington, down from 59 per cent in the same survey just over a month ago. The main opposition National Party was on 38 per cent, up from 29 per cent, after it changed its leader. The election will be held Sept 19.

Ardern's support may have been hurt by recent revelations that New Zealand's border controls have been too lax, allowing two women with Covid-19 to exit quarantine early to attend a family funeral without being tested.

National Party's change of leader to Todd Muller from Simon Bridges is also helping to rekindle its support.

Still, if the poll results were replicated on election night, Ardern's party could govern alone. That is an unlikely outcome in New Zealand's proportional representation electoral system, which lends itself to coalition governments.

Labour's current coalition partner New Zealand First was on 2 per cent, well below the 5 per cent required to return to parliament. However, its ally the Green Party was on 6 per cent, giving the centre-left a robust margin over the centre-right.

The poll was conducted June 20-24 and had a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

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