National to rule alone - poll

Prime Minister John Key will be returned to power on Saturday with the first majority government in New Zealand in a decade, Australian pollster Roy Morgan says.

The latest Morgan poll shows National will be confirmed in power by voters concerned about both the New Zealand and global economy, but with more than 60 per cent confident the country is heading in the right direction.

The poll said support for National was unchanged at 53 per cent, but with a marginal increase in its lead following a 1.5 point fall - to 24.5 per cent - for Labour.

The Greens appear set to emerge as the country's third party with 13 per cent of the vote and the prospect of winning more than 10 seats for the first time.

New Zealand First, ACT NZ and United Future will all struggle to find seats in the new parliament.

NZ First won 3 per cent of the vote. ACT and United Future each recorded 0.5 per cent.

The poll said the Maori Party, whose support increased by 1 point to 3 per cent since the previous poll, was expected to do well.

It was likely to benefit from the collapse in the Labour vote since the 2008 election.

The Mana Party held 1 per cent of the vote.

The poll said voters were more optimistic about the future.

The Government's confidence rating rose 2 points, with 60.5 per cent saying New Zealand was heading in the right direction.

The number believing the country was slipping in the opposite direction fell 3.5 per cent, to 24 per cent.

The economy and the global financial crisis continue to dominate voters' concerns, with 49 per cent placing economic issues at the top of their list of worries.

Heading economic concerns, at 23 per cent, are the financial crisis, fears of recession, inflation and the exchange rate, ahead of unemployment (9 per cent) and cost of living, financial hardship and household debt (7 per cent).

The environment was nominated as the country's most pressing issue by 19 per cent, and social issues by 18 per cent.

Morgan Research executive chairman Gary Morgan said the poll showed National was set to be selected with a majority of seats in the parliament for the first time since 1993.

He said National was well ahead of Labour, the Greens had clearly emerged as New Zealand's third party, and the minor parties were facing an uphill battle to win any seats.

NZ First, despite a 1.5 per cent dip in support, NZ First was still in the best position to cross the crucial 5 per cent threshold needed to gain a foothold in Parliament, Mr Morgan said.

Roy Morgan is the Australian research company behind the worm used in last night's leaders' debate on TV3.


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