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New Zealand sets date for general election

By Reuters

New Zealand will hold a general election on Nov 26, Prime Minister John Key said on Wednesday, confirming a date which had been widely expected.

Key's centre-right National Party governs with the support of three minor parties and holds a commanding lead in opinion polls over the main opposition centre-left Labour Party.

A Reuters poll of four major polls gives National average support of 54.5 per cent support against Labour's 32.6 per cent.

Under New Zealand's proportional representation system a party needs either an electorate seat or five per cent of the total nationwide vote to gain a seat in the 120 seat parliament.

Economic management, support for low and middle income earners, and the partial sale of some state assets are shaping as major election issues.

"This year's election will be about which party has a realistic plan to achieve faster growth for New Zealanders," Key said.

"National will be campaigning at the election on our record as responsible managers of the economy."

 Parliament will probably finish sitting on October 6 and be officially dissolved on October 20.

Key said it was sensible to name the date early and avoid politics getting mixed up with the Rugby World Cup being held in New Zealand in September and October.