‘Anything can still happen’ after New Zealand’s final leaders’ debate

Both leaders still thought they were in with a chance of victory during their final debate on Wednesday.

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The latest polls put the ruling National Party in the lead – which they have reclaimed from Labour – after its surge of popularity under new leader Jacinda Ardern.

Prime Minister Bill English described the election as a choice between change and trust.

“Do voters want change? Or do they trust the party that’s been running the show?” he said.

The debate was the last opportunity for the leaders to make an impression ahead of Saturday’s election.

Both parties are still trying to win over undecideds and both party leaders have made impassioned pleas to their supporters to get out and vote.

“Look, that’s up to the voters [who won the debate],” Mr English said.

“I think it was a great debate for airing the issues that came up over the campaign and outlining a pretty sharp choice the voters have over the next two or three days.”

His opponent was not able to summarise her position.

“Again, in the moment, I can never really tell who’s been the winning debater on the day. I know I enjoyed it,” Ms Ardern said.

Political commentator Mark Boyd described the debate as “odd” and “stilted” with no clear winner. 

“It wasn’t really a debate – it was more like an interview because there was no audience,” he told SBS World News.

Mr Boyd noted the previous debates had been more animated and drew bigger reactions.  

The feeling on Thursday on the streets of Auckland was that this is an election where anything can still happen.