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NZ prime minister on course for election victory: poll

FILE PHOTO: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern participates in a televised debate with National leader Judith Collins at TVNZ in Auckland, New Zealand, September 22, 2020. Fiona Goodall/Pool via REUTERS

SYDNEY (Reuters) - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is poised to retain power at next month’s election, a widely watched poll showed on Sunday, although it said a recent COVID-19 outbreak has dented her support slightly.

A Newshub-Reid Research Poll released on Sunday showed support for Ardern’s Labour Party at to 50.1%, though this is down from the record 60.9% recorded earlier this year when New Zealand was widely lauded as a world leader in battling COVID-19.

Support for the main opposition National Party was at 29.6%, up 4.5 percentage points.

Should the poll findings materialise, Ardern would govern without relying on any coalition partners.

New Zealand was COVID-free for 102 days until a second wave hit Auckland last month.

Ardern became the country’s youngest leader in more than 150 years in 2017 after the kingmaker nationalist New Zealand First Party agreed to form a government with her Labour Party, ending the National Party’s decade in power.

Ardern, 40, also holds huge global appeal due to her response to last year’s attack by a white supremacist on two mosques, a fatal volcanic eruption and her success with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

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