New Zealand’s main opposition, trailing in the opinion polls ahead of September’s election, has lost its second leader in less than two months after Todd Muller resigned following a series of mis-steps.
“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 Tuesday in Wellington. “The role has taken a heavy toll on me personally, and on my family, and this has become untenable from a health perspective.”
Muller took over National’s leadership on May 22 after polls showing a slump in support under his predecessor Simon Bridges saw him ousted by the party’s members of parliament. Since then, Muller has struggled to turn the tide as his opponent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern continues to win plaudits for her handling of the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic
In a One News/Colmar Brunton poll published June 25, Ardern’s Labour Party had 50% support to National’s 38% — signaling the challenge Muller faced ahead of the Sept. 19 election. Muller scored 13% as preferred prime minister to Ardern’s 43%.
Muller has been under pressure since he and his deputy Nikki Kaye took over the reins. His reshuffled shadow cabinet drew criticism for lacking ethnic diversity and he was called out by some media for not having a clear economic plan. Last week Muller was embarrassed when one of his junior caucus colleagues confessed to leaking sensitive Covid patient information.
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