Former trade union boss to lead New Zealand party

AP News
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Posted: Nov 17, 2014 11:29 PM
Former trade union boss to lead New Zealand party

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand's main opposition political party on Tuesday elected a former trade union boss as its leader following a big election defeat two months ago.

Andrew Little was chosen by the liberal Labour Party from among four candidates after former leader David Cunliffe stepped down following the September election.

The election saw conservative Prime Minister John Key win a third term in office after his National Party won 47 percent of the vote. The Labour Party won 25 percent of the vote, its worst showing in more than 90 years.

Little did not announce any major policies in his acceptance speech, saying instead the party would take some time to talk with people across the country and to devise new policies and strategies.

"I don't underestimate the task ahead," he said. "We were at 25 percent of the party vote in the last election and we have work to do."

Little just edged Grant Robertson in the contest, who had hoped to become the party's first openly gay leader. Little began the contest as an outsider, and his victory will be seen as a win for those on the left of the party.

A lawyer, Little, 49, has served as national secretary of the EPMU union and president of the Labour Party. He was first elected to Parliament in 2011.