WELLINGTON (REUTERS) - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's party is projected to be one seat short of a being able to govern alone, and has a double-digit lead over its rival, with just over a week to the general election, an opinion poll showed on Thursday (Oct 8).
The closely watched 1News-Colmar Brunton poll showed support for Ms Ardern's Labour party, which is seeking a second term in office, at 47 per cent, unchanged from the last poll on Sept 28.
This means Labour, which is campaigning on its record of bringing the coronavirus pandemic under control within New Zealand's borders, would have 60 seats in Parliament, one short of the 61 seats needed to form a government.
Support for its coalition partner the Green Party was at 6 per cent, which would give it eight seats.
New Zealand heads to the polls on Oct 17 and advance voting began on Saturday.
The main opposition National Party got 32 per cent support, failing to close a 15 percentage point gap between the parties, despite the tough-talking conservative leader Judith Collins claiming to have won two live debates with Ms Ardern.
Ms Ardern's popularity as preferred prime minister dropped four percentage points to 50 per cent, while Ms Collins was unchanged at 23 per cent.
Smaller parties also continued to gain more support with ACT Party at 8 per cent and New Zealand First inching up slightly to 2 per cent.
All recent polls have pointed to a victory for Ms Ardern's Labour Party, governing in a coalition with the Greens and New Zealand First.
Ms Ardern, 40, has won support at home and global admiration for her response to last year's attack by a white supremacist on two mosques, a fatal volcanic eruption and her success in tackling the coronavirus outbreak.
She declared this week that New Zealand has eliminated Covid-19 from the community, again, as a second wave of infections in Auckland had been contained.