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Jacinda Ardern Lifts Labour Into Poll Lead In Run-up to New Zealand Election
New Zealand's Labour Party has continued its extraordinary surge(CCSS Level: Grade 8, Words: 394)
Sep 1, 2017 World News
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The month-old leadership of Jacinda Ardern has seen a new poll putting Labour's support at a 10-year-high, and for the first time in from of the governing National party in the run-up to this month's general election. Labour's projected share of the vote has risen from 26% to 43% since Ardern, 37, became the party's youngest leader ever.

Ardern took control of the party on 1 August with Labour at an all-time low in the polls and has almost single-handedly reignited its chances of forming the next government. Labour now stands two points ahead of the National party, led by the current prime minister, Bill English.

Ardern and English met in a leader's debate on Thursday in which English was asked in the opening question:"Bill, why are you losing?"

The debate between the two leaders was dominated by three hot topics: housing, tax and immigration. Ardern attacked National's record on housing, reiterating a Labour plan to build 10,000 houses a year. Home ownership rates in New Zealand have fallen to their lowest level since 1951 and affordability is one of the greatest challenges, with prices increasing 34% in the last three years. English said affordability was better than it had been in 2008 due to low interest rates, to which Ardern replied: "Tell someone in Auckland that a $150,000 deposit is affordable."

English attacked what he called Labour's "vague and confusing policies" and reiterated his party's tax cut policies. "People can't go shopping with your values… every person in NZ who does not have children will be worse off under Labour," he said.

Political observers were divided on who won the debate, but the political editor of the New Zealand Herald, Audrey Young, said Ardern's fluent style had put the prime minister under real pressure. "It was Bill English, but not as we know him. He sounded as though he has been in a debating bootcamp for the past week, learning about gesticulation, intonation, brevity and how good it is to smile."

"I'm certainly not going to decide that it's somehow a done deal right now," Ardern said of Labour's poll lead. English and debate moderator Hosking tussled over the poll and whether the prime minister could reveal another private polling number, which he claimed was better. The prime minister did not respond.

The election itself takes place on 23 September.

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help


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most important; exercise control over


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