New Zealand opposition leader ousted as PM Ardern's popularity soars

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The leader of New Zealand’s main opposition party was ousted on Friday after opinion polls showed he was no match for the soaring popularity of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as the country heads toward a general election.

Simon Bridges was replaced by Todd Muller in an emergency caucus meeting of his centre-right National Party following a week of disastrous poll results.

Just 5% of New Zealanders supported Bridges, 43, as the country’s leader in a poll published on Thursday, while support for the Nationals fell to the lowest in decades. The same poll revealed Ardern, 39, enjoyed the support of 63% of the electorate.

Ardern’s popularity has shot higher in recent weeks with around 84% of New Zealanders approving of her government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Another poll showed Ardern had become New Zealand’s most popular prime minister in a century and her centre-left Labour Party led coalition would be handed a huge victory at the Sept. 19 election.

Muller, 51, a largely unknown figure at the national level, had not been publicly perceived as a potential leader. Speaking to the media after the party ballot, he emphasised his strong ties to the rural farming community, the backbone of New Zealand’s economy. Muller held roles at both dairy giant Fonterra and kiwifruit growers cooperative Zespri.

“I come from New Zealand communities that define this country,” Muller said.

“The question sitting in front of all New Zealanders in the next 100 days is who actually has the best plan and the team to deliver it.”

Muller said Ardern was “impressive” in her handling of the coronavirus crisis and his focus would be on the country’s economic recovery, not criticising the current leader.

Nikki Kaye, 40, was elected as the Nationals’ deputy leader, replacing Paula Bennett. Kaye has twice defeated Jacinda Ardern in previous electorate battles.

Source: Read Full Article

Hillary Clinton set to endorse Joe Biden's presidential bid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will endorse the campaign of her fellow Democrat Joe Biden on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with her plans.

Clinton posted a photo of herself arm-in-arm with Biden on Twitter and suggesting that she would be the “surprise guest” for an afternoon Biden campaign women’s town hall.

The endorsement marks the latest in a series of high-profile Democrats lining up behind Biden ahead of what is expected to be a tight Nov. 3 election rematch between their party and Republican President Donald Trump.

Clinton, a onetime U.S. secretary of state, former senator from New York and wife of past President Bill Clinton, lost the 2016 presidential race against Trump in an election that is still the source of anger and consternation among many liberals who expected to elect the first female president but also wrestled with whether they chose the right candidate.

The endorsement, which is expected at Biden’s online event, is no surprise. Biden is already his party’s presumptive nominee after his rivals dropped out, including Senator Bernie Sanders, who bitterly clashed with Clinton when they contested their party’s 2016 primary.

Biden was Barack Obama’s vice president, and Clinton his first secretary of state. Both simultaneously considered presidential runs, but Biden ultimately decided against mounting a campaign then as he grieved over the death of his son Beau. Obama endorsed Biden’s current campaign two weeks ago.

Source: Read Full Article