Wednesday, December 7, 2022

New Zealand opposition leader resigns two months out from election

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New Zealand opposition leader Todd Muller unexpectedly resigned on Tuesday after just over 50 days in the role, leaving the conservative National Party scrambling to find a new leader to face Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the Sept. 19 election.

Muller was elected leader of the opposition in May, following a string of opinion polls that showed Ardern’s Labour Party was set to retain power.

“It has become clear to me that I am not the best person to be Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the New Zealand National Party at this critical time for New Zealand,” Muller said in a statement.

“The role has taken a heavy toll on me personally, and on my family, and this has become untenable from a health perspective.”

Muller said he would take some time to spend with his family and “restore my energy before reconnecting with my community”.

Ardern passed on her best wishes for Muller and his family.

“No matter what side of Parliament you’re sitting, politics is a difficult place,” the New Zealand Herald said in a report quoting the prime minister.

New Zealand goes to the polls in September in what is expected to be a coronavirus-dominated campaign.

Recent opinion polls have predicted that Labour could govern on its own, without needing a coalition partner, helped by the soaring popularity of Ardern with most New Zealanders approving of her government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

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