Asia-Pacific

New Zealand election day set for after Rugby World Cup‎

New Zealand All Blacks players perform the haka before a rugby match (November 2010)
Image caption Mr Key said the Rugby World Cup would be the biggest event New Zealand has ever staged

New Zealand's prime minister has called an election for 26 November, announcing the date early so as not to interfere with hosting the Rugby World Cup.

Voters normally get only a few weeks' notice, but John Key said he did not want to undermine the event by "playing politics" with the election date.

Mr Key said the World Cup, taking place in September and October, would be the biggest event New Zealand has staged.

A November election will allow a five-week campaign after the tournament.

"This gives the public clarity," Mr Key told reporters.

"The Rugby World Cup is a huge opportunity for New Zealand, the biggest event it has ever staged, and we can showcase the country to billions of viewers.

"I don't want to undermine that by playing politics with the election date."

Mr Key's centre-right National Party governs with the support of three minor parties, and is well ahead of the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls.

The Labour Party was ousted from power in 2008 after three consecutive terms.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff said his party would be ready for the campaign.

"We know that people are worried about the soaring cost of living with prices rising much faster than wages - that will be a key issue [during] this election," he said.

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