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Support for New Zealand's Ardern drops in latest poll but coalition still seen winning


WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand's ruling Labour Party will need help from coalition partners to form a government after an Oct.17 general election, the latest opinion polls showed on Monday, after it was previously on course to govern alone.

A closely watched 1News-Colmar Brunton poll showed support for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's party, which is seeking a second term, is at 47%, down 1 percentage points since the last poll on Sept. 22.

This means Labour, which is campaigning on its record of bringing the novel coronavirus under control, would have 59 seats in Parliament, two short of the 61 seats needed to form a government.

But support for its possible coalition partner the Green Party rose to 7%, which would give it eight seats.

The Labour Party is still widely expected to form the next government. Another poll released on Sunday showed Ardern's party was poised to retain power.

Support for the opposition National Party was at 33% in the latest poll on Monday, up two percentage points, after its tough-talking conservative leader Judith Collins was praised for her performance in a leaders' debate last week.

Ardern's popularity as preferred prime minister was steady at 54%, while Collins rose to 23%, up 5 percentage points from the last poll.

Smaller parties also continued to gain more support.

All recent polls have pointed to a victory for Ardern's Labour Party, governing in a coalition with the Greens and New Zealand First.

Ardern, 40, has won support at home and global admiration for her response to last year's attack by a white supremacist on two mosques, a fatal volcanic eruption and her success in tackling the coronavirus.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Kim Coghill, Robert Birsel)

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