Center-left party’s plan to cut immigration helps narrow the gap with conservative government.
A tightening election race in this U.S. ally has its roots in anxiety over immigration and the rise of a leader who wasn’t even her party’s first choice when campaigning began more than a month ago.
New Zealand voters will go to the polls on Sept. 23 to decide whether Bill English’s National party should remain in government after nearly nine years or be replaced by the opposition Labour Party headed by Jacinda Ardern, a 37-year-old former president of the International Union of Socialist Youth.
A recent voter poll put support for Labour at its highest level in more than a decade—at 43 points, while the National Party fell to 41 points. It raises the prospect of an upset win for Ms. Ardern, who succeeded Andrew Little as leader of the center-left party at the start of August, when it lagged behind Mr. English’s conservatives by more than 20 points. It has also made the prospect of a hung parliament more likely, which would thrust smaller parties like the populist New Zealand First into the role of kingmakers.