New Zealand’s opposition leader has been removed by his party in a desperate attempt to install puppets that can match the power of star Jacinda Ardern in elections next September.
National Party Member of Parliament Todd Muller won a vote in a secret party room against Simon Bridges, a former prosecutor who was recently found to be very unpopular in the community. The voting lasted less than an hour. Nikki Kaye was chosen as her representative.
Speaking at a press conference, Muller described himself as a man from the “heart of New Zealand” and said that the country needed a national government with “experience and management skills to bring our country through the worst crisis since the end of the second world war.”
Muller said he was not interested in playing opposition politics but he would hold the government accountable. While he praised their management of the Covid-19 crisis as “impressive” and praised Ardern as an “excellent communicator”, he said Labor lacked the skills to lead New Zealand out of the economic downturn, and said the party only had two or three talented MPs in the cabinet.
“First and foremost I am about what is best for you and your family, not what is wrong with the government,” Muller said.
“My focus as a leader is the economic recovery of our country and the strengthening of every community throughout New Zealand.”
“What drives me is the community, the people who help their old neighbors with the lawn on weekends, the father who runs the food stalls at the local school exhibition, the mother who trains the local touch rugby team.”
Deputy Muller Kaye described him as “the best person I know” and said he had the extraordinary ability to unite conservatives and liberals within the party.
In the week before the vote, Bridges rated only 5% and below, with his party at 30.6%. Meanwhile, Ardern’s popularity has surged to record highs, making him the most popular prime minister of New Zealand in a century.
Bridges said his leadership had become a “ride”. He posted a goodbye message to Kiwi on Twitter, and said he hoped to become a “better husband and father” for his family, saying the leadership had taken their toll on them.
“It was a blast, I really have no regrets … I am not perfect but this is a privilege.” “
Before the vote on Friday, Muller put forward the premise for his challenge in an e-mail to 55 National MPs, saying: “Labor has failed to meet every measure that has been set for itself in government. This will not change and the consequences of re-election at this time will be a major disaster for two generations. “
“Our community and economy are at stake. It is very important to win this election National. I share the view of the majority of co-workers that this is not possible under the current leadership. “
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, Bridges has been criticized for his lack of empathy and deaf-response, appearing to fight with the government when the public feels he must show solidarity and support during a national emergency.
In balance is the wealth of the election year party that dominated parliament for nine years until 2017, but has struggled to gather challengers who can match popularity Ardern.
The Ardern Party conducted a 56.5% poll in Newshub Reid’s research poll on Monday, which means that Labor can govern itself after the September election in a country where the coalition government is normal. The prime minister shot to 59.5% on the choice leader’s bet, making him the most popular prime minister in a century.
Muller comes from a business background, with roles in the Fonterra dairies and in Zespri, a kiwi fruit farmers cooperative. He came from a family of supporters of the dyed-in-wool National party and served as executive assistant for Jim Bolger while he was prime minister in the 1990s.
Bay of Plenty MP, who lives in the town of Tauranga on the North Island with his wife and three children, may suffer from not being able to stand out nationally, said opponents of the challenge.
Kaye is much better known in the mainstream New Zealand, part of his initial political battle with Ardern. In 2011 and 2014, the pair confronted directly the same voter seat in Auckland, which Kaye won and defended (Ardern now has a different voter seat).
The couple made headlines for their youth – they were both born in 1980 – and popularity. Kaye later became minister of education in the previous national government and was successfully treated for breast cancer in 2016.
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