New Zealand Opposition Slumps in Poll After Sexting Claims

New Zealand’s main opposition party has slumped in a poll after it changed leader and one of its parliamentarians resigned over an alleged sexting scandal.

Support for the conservative National Party fell to just 25.1% in a Reid Research/Newshub poll published late Sunday, down from 30.6% in May. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party soared to a record 60.9% from 56.5%, meaning it could form a government alone. A general election will be held Sept. 19.

The poll of 1,000 people was conducted July 16-24, shortly after Judith Collins took after as leader from Todd Muller, who lasted less than two months in the role. National has stumbled from one crisis to the next. Last week one of its junior caucus members resigned over allegations he texted pornographic images to several young women. That came just weeks after another was forced to quit for leaking confidential Covid-19 patient details.

National immediately branded the latest poll a “rogue.”

“These numbers aren’t even in the same ballpark as our internal polls, other public polls and the hugely positive public response to our leader Judith Collins,” deputy leader Gerry Brownlee said in a statement. “Even with the most rigorous methodology, one in 20 polls will always be a rogue and this is clearly one of them.”

Ardern’s Labour Party has also been tainted by controversy, with two ministers resigning this month alone. In the latest incident last week, the Minister for Workplace Safety stepped down after admitting to a year-long, extramarital affair with a former staffer.

Still, there is broad support for Ardern’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen New Zealand achieve the rare feat of eliminating community transmission.

The poll showed Labour ally the Green Party on 5.7% support. The populist New Zealand First Party, currently in a coalition with Labour, fell to just 2%, well below the 5% needed to be returned to parliament.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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