WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Support for New Zealand's opposition Labour Party was neck-and-neck with the National Party, a poll showed, threatening the center-right government's decade-long grip on power.
Backing for Labour had surged 7 points to 39.5 percent, virtually even with National on 40 percent, a Roy Morgan Poll showed on Friday.
The result highlights the unusually tight race to the vote on Sept. 23, with surveys by separate pollsters this week showing both National and Labour in the lead.
"The narrow gap between the major parties means the final outcome of the election will be decided by the second string parties – and it is here that Labour has a decisive edge," Gary Morgan, the pollster's executive chair, said on its website.
Labour's possible coalition partner, the Green Party, posted support of 9 percent, putting the pair in a strong position to form a government with the smaller Maori Party, whose support was 2 percent.
The nationalist New Zealand First Party dropped 2.75 points to just 6 percent, making it less likely that Labour would need the populist party to form a government.
(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)