Opposition angst as Ardern on top in NZ

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern could face a new opposition leader as soon as this year after an opinion poll showed widespread discontent with National party leader Judith Collins.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, released on Sunday night, shows Labour on top with 43 per cent of the electorate's support.

If an election was held this week, Labour would retain government by forming a coalition with the Greens, which polled seven per cent.

But the continued rise of the libertarian right-wing minor party ACT is transforming the political calculus.

David Seymour, a wonky 38-year-old who appears permanently suited, except for an infamous stint on Dancing With The Stars, has overtaken Ms Collins to be NZ's de facto opposition leader.

Despite ACT's minor party status, he has double the personal support of Ms Collins, who leads NZ's main centre-right party.

The jury appears in on Ms Collins, who took the helm after leadership instability in June last year as National crashed to a generationally-low 26 per cent in the 2020 election.

She has failed to improve the party's fortunes after 16 months in the job, with National polling 27 per cent in Sunday's survey.

Sensationally, ACT - which held just one seat in parliament until the 2020 poll - is on track to become the third force of Kiwi politics.

After polling eight per cent in the 2020 election, ACT now has the support of 16 per cent of New Zealanders, which would return roughly 20 MPs in the 120-seat house.

ACT's rise has many in National extremely worried for their political future.

Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien reports a majority of National MPs support removing Ms Collins as leader.

"All signs point to curtains for Collins," she said.

"Some Nats want the blood-letting over and done by Christmas ... others want to wait until early next year.

"There isn't consensus yet about the best approach but I'm told a majority of Nats are keenly looking at ACT's numbers, and David Seymour doubling his MPs on 16 per cent could be impetus for change this year."

Ms Ardern took office in 2017 after NZ First sided with Labour following lengthy coalition talks, ending three terms of National government under John Key and Bill English.

Since then, she has squared off with Mr English, Simon Bridges, Todd Muller and Ms Collins in parliament.

Mr Bridges is seen as most likely leader to replace Ms Collins should a coup take place soon.

Former Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon is another mooted leader, but as a first-term MP, is seen as too inexperienced to take on Ms Ardern - yet.

Both polled 2.5 per cent as preferred PM in this week's survey.

Ms Collins defiantly told Newshub a leadership spill "isn't happening".

"We're focused on the things that matter," she insisted.

Another public poll released earlier this month by rival broadcaster 1News showed roughly similar numbers, with Labour on 41 per cent, National on 28, ACT on 14 and the Greens on 9.

LATEST NZ POLL

Labour - 43 per cent (steady)

National - 27 (down 2)

ACT - 16 (up 5)

Greens - 7 (down 1)

NZ First 3 - (down 1)

Maori Party - 2 (steady)

PREFERRED PM

Jacinda Ardern (Labour) - 42 per cent (down 4)

David Seymour (ACT) - 12 (up 3)

Judith Collins (National) - 6 (down 2)

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