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Poll indicates New Zealand heading toward change in government

NATO Summit in Vilnius

By Lucy Craymer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand looks to be heading towards a change of government after an October election, according to a new poll showing the opposition National Party and likely coalition partner ACT holding 50% of the vote.

The latest 1News Verian poll published late on Monday forecasts a centre-right bloc of the National Party and the ACT party winning 65 seats.

The centre-left bloc, combining the ruling Labour Party and Greens, were at 52 seats, well below the numbers needed to remain in power. Labour, with just 29% support, is now at its lowest level in six years.

Parties need 61 seats for a majority in New Zealand's 120-seat House of Representatives.

Less than two months out from the election, the gap for preferred prime minister is also narrowing. Current Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is registering 21% support, down 3 points, while National leader Christopher Luxon is at 20%, unchanged.

The poll put minor party New Zealand First at 4%, still below the threshold of being able to get back into parliament without a candidate being elected.

The survey was held from Aug. 12-16 and 1002 voters were polled by mobile phone, online and using online panels.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Stephen Coates)