2020 New Zealand National Party leadership election

An election for the parliamentary leadership of the New Zealand National Party took place in the National Party parliamentary caucus on 22 May 2020.[1][failed verification] Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye stood against the existing leader Simon Bridges and his deputy leader Paula Bennett following poor polling results.[2] Muller and Kaye won the votes and became the new leader and deputy leader respectively.[3]

2020 New Zealand National Party leadership election
← 2018 22 May 2020
  Todd Muller.jpg Simon-Bridges-Free-Crop.jpg
Candidate Todd Muller Simon Bridges
Popular vote ≥28 <28

Leader before election

Simon Bridges

Leader after election

Todd Muller

2020 New Zealand National Party deputy leadership election
← 2018 22 May 2020
  Nikki Kaye NZgovt cropped.jpg Paula Bennett in 2018.png
Candidate Nikki Kaye Paula Bennett
Popular vote ≥28 <28

Deputy Leader before election

Paula Bennett

Deputy Leader after election

Nikki Kaye

BackgroundEdit

After the National Party lost the 2017 election, its leader Bill English resigned, and Simon Bridges won the leadership election in February 2018.

On 18 May 2020, four months before the next general election, a poll was released in which 56.5% of those surveyed would vote for Labour, compared with 30.6% for National. The same poll reported that 59.5% of those surveyed preferred Labour's leader Jacinda Ardern for prime minister, whereas Simon Bridges was preferred by only 4.5%.[4] This was the first public poll since the COVID-19 pandemic reached New Zealand, and Labour had seen widespread support for its actions in the pandemic including from National supporters.[5]

By 19 May, media were reporting on a challenge to Bridges' leadership, citing comments from anonymous National MPs. Also on 19 May, Muller said he had no leadership ambitions and wasn't interested in the job.[6] But on 20 May Muller confirmed in an email to National MPs that he would challenge for the National Party leadership.[7] Later that day the party announced that the vote would be held on 22 May.[1]

Former National Party president Michelle Boag said that the poll was not the only reason for the leadership challenge, describing it as the "catalyst" but saying that there had been "months and months, and sometimes years, of [National] MPs having negative feedback about their leader, not only from party members but from constituents."[8] Some National MPs told reporters that a leadership challenge by Muller had been "brewing for a while."[9]

Muller arrived in Wellington on 21 May in order to talk with National MPs one-on-one. When asked whether Nikki Kaye was his running mate for the deputy position, he refused to comment, saying "all conversations about leadership should stay within caucus".[10] Kaye also refused to confirm she was Muller's running mate.[11] That night, another poll was released which had Labour at 59% and National at 29%. In this poll, which was conducted from 16 to 20 May, Bridges received 5% support as preferred prime minister, while Muller received 0.2%.[12][13]

National MPs arrived at Parliament on the morning of 22 May for an emergency caucus meeting to be held at midday, many having flown into Wellington that morning. Very few would indicate which way they intended to vote,[3] and the vote was a secret ballot.[14]

CandidatesEdit

Declared candidatesEdit

Name Positions Endorsements
 
Simon Bridges
Endorsements
Reported caucus support
Publicly-announced caucus support
 
Todd Muller
  • MP for Bay of Plenty since 2014
  • Spokesperson for Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety, Forestry since 2019
Endorsements
Reported caucus support
Publicly-announced caucus support

DeclinedEdit

The following individuals were speculated as being possible leadership candidates, but ruled out a bid:

ResultsEdit

Todd Muller won the vote for the party leadership, and Nikki Kaye won the vote for the deputy position.[30][3][31][32] After the vote, Muller refused to say how many people had voted for each candidate.[3] On 24 May, the Herald on Sunday reported that Muller may have won the leadership by a single vote.[24] By contrast, Stuff reported that while Bridges' supporters were claiming such a margin, the margin was likely to have been wider, but even the candidates did not know the figures.[33]

AftermathEdit

On 25 May, three days after the election, Muller announced a National caucus reshuffle, though there were only a few changes. Amy Adams, who had planned to retire at the 2020 election, instead changed her mind and was awarded the newly created "Covid-19 Recovery" portfolio. It was reported that Simon Bridges was offered the Justice portfolio; reportedly he turned it down and asked for the Foreign Affairs portfolio, but was refused it. Bridges was not given any caucus ranking but Muller said that there would be a place for Bridges in his senior leadership team should he decide to stay in politics.[34]

Bridges announced he was staying in the party and would run again for the Tauranga electorate he currently represents.[35]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "National confirms leadership vote to be held on Friday". Radio NZ. 20 May 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Simon Bridges faces challenge to his leadership from MPs Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye". Stuff.co.nz. 20 May 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Live: The contest for the National party leadership". Stuff. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Jacinda Ardern, Labour soar in new poll". RNZ. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  5. ^ Trevett, Claire (18 May 2020). "New poll: Labour and Jacinda Ardern surge in popularity, National and Simon Bridges plummet". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  6. ^ ZB, Newstalk. "Todd Muller denies leadership ambitions despite endorsement by ex-PM". ZB. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b Walls, Jason; Trevett, Claire (20 May 2020). "National leadership coup: Todd Muller confirms he'll challenge Simon Bridges on Friday". New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 22 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Simon Bridges' tactics likely to lose him the leadership challenge - commentator". RNZ. 21 May 2020. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  9. ^ Devlin, Collette (21 May 2020). "Todd Muller's expenses show he is spending like a leader". Stuff. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  10. ^ Cooke, Henry (21 May 2020). "Todd Muller arrives in Wellington on eve of attempt to oust Simon Bridges". Stuff. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  11. ^ Block, George (21 May 2020). "Nikki Kaye 'very busy' as she heads to Wellington with challenge vote looming". Stuff. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Pressure mounts as National falls to 29%, Labour skyrockets in 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll". 21 May 2020.
  13. ^ Coughlan, Thomas (21 May 2020). "Bridges plummets in latest poll, as National leadership race enters final day". Stuff. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  14. ^ a b c d e Trevett, Claire (21 May 2020). "National leadership coup: Simon Bridges confident ahead of new poll, Todd Muller challenge". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 22 May 2020.
  15. ^ Theunissen, Matthew (20 May 2020). "Simon Bridges to face National Party leadership challenge". Radio New Zealand. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020.
  16. ^ Devlin, Collette (22 May 2020). "Sarah Dowie is supporting Simon Bridges. "We have eye on the prize". Says Govts poll good in crisis and Nats were polling well beforehand. @NZStuffPolitics #nzpolpic.twitter.com/t1KwjMBUVc". @devlincolle. Archived from the original on 21 May 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  17. ^ Houlahan, Mike (22 May 2020). "Woodhouse pledges allegiance as Bridges faces challenge". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  18. ^ Harman, Richard (21 May 2020). "How Bridges flushed out Muller". Politik. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020.
  19. ^ a b c d Malpass, Luke; Cooke, Henry (21 May 2020). "Simon Bridges vs Todd Muller: It's all about the big W for National". Stuff. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020.
  20. ^ Wrigley, Wynsley (21 May 2020). Bid to oust leader ‘nutty stuff’: Tolley. Gisborne Herald. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  21. ^ a b Cardwell, Hamish (22 May 2020). "National leadership: MPs give little away as they fly in for vote". Radio New Zealand. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020.
  22. ^ "Former PM Jim Bolger backs Todd Muller for next National leader". 19 May 2020. Archived from the original on 22 May 2020.
  23. ^ Hooton, Matthew (22 May 2020). "Matthew Hooton: Simon Bridges v Todd Muller- why National has only one choice". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 24 May 2020.
  24. ^ a b Trevett, Claire (24 May 2020). "Anatomy of a coup: How Todd Muller felled Simon Bridges and who helped him". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 24 May 2020.
  25. ^ a b c d e f Harman, Richard (25 May 2020). "Adams' return signals what really lay behind Muller's campaign". Archived from the original on 25 May 2020.
  26. ^ Carroll, Joane (22 May 2020). "MP called 'useless' by Simon Bridges gets last laugh". Stuff. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020.
  27. ^ O'Brien, Tova (21 May 2020). "Judith Collins rules out run for leadership, but won't rule out visit from Todd Muller offering deputy role". Newshub. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  28. ^ "National to hold emergency caucus meeting on Friday about party's leadership". TVNZ. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  29. ^ "Mark Mitchell may contest National Party leadership, 1 NEWS understands". TVNZ. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  30. ^ Ensor, Jamie; Small, Zane; O'Brien, Tova; Kronast, Hannah. "National Party leadership contest live updates: Simon Bridges v Todd Muller". Newshub. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  31. ^ "Live: Todd Muller beats Simon Bridges in National Party leadership contest". Stuff. Archived from the original on 23 May 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  32. ^ "Live: Simon Bridges loses National Party leadership to Todd Muller". Radio New Zealand. 22 May 2020. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  33. ^ Malpass, Luke; Watkins, Tracey (24 May 2020). "How Todd Muller took Simon Bridges by surprise". Stuff. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  34. ^ "National leader Todd Muller reshuffles caucus: Adams rises, Tolley falls in new lineup". Radio New Zealand. 25 May 2020. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  35. ^ Cooke, Henry (25 May 2020). "Simon Bridges to stay on in National, says he is 'not considering future'". Stuff. Archived from the original on 25 May 2020. Retrieved 25 May 2020.