New Zealand opposition leader quits weeks before looming elections

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English (Mark Mitchell, New Zealand Herald via AP)
New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English (Mark Mitchell, New Zealand Herald via AP)

Wellington – The leader of New Zealand's main opposition Labour Party quit on Tuesday, just weeks before a general election, citing "disappointing" opinion polls.

Outgoing Andrew Little said the centre-left party needed a fresh team at the top for the September 23 election after its support plunged to 20-year-lows of between 23% and 24%.

"Recent poll results have been disappointing. As leader, I must take responsibility for these results," he said.

"I do take responsibility and believe that Labour must have an opportunity to perform better under new leadership through to the election."

Little stepped down immediately, with the Labour caucus set to elect a replacement later on Tuesday. He backed his deputy Jacinda Ardern for the role.

The centre-right National Party-led coalition under Prime Minister Bill English is seeking a fourth term in the election and comfortably leads in the polls.

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