July 15, 2020 / 2:48 AM / 21 days ago

New Zealand opposition names new leader two months before general election

SYDNEY (Reuters) - New Zealand’s main opposition party named a new leader two months before a general election following Tuesday’s surprise resignation of the previous party leader, who had been in the role just over 50 days.

The conservative National Party elected four-time member of parliament Judith Collins to take on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party in a September election that is expected to be dominated by coronavirus-related issues.

Recent opinion polls have predicted that Labour could govern on its own, without a coalition, helped by the soaring popularity of Ardern.

Collins, an admirer of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, has a tough job on her hands as she will need to convince voters to go against Ardern.

Ardern in one recent poll was named the country’s most popular prime minister in a century.

Todd Muller, who became opposition leader in May, resigned citing health reasons and said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Tom Hogue

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