New Zealand’s conservative opposition party has chosen former businessman and political novice Christopher Luxon as their new leader, as he tries to rebuild himself after a huge electoral loss last year and continuing struggles intestines
Luxon is a close friend of former Prime Minister John Key and many in the National Party are hoping he brings a similar relaxed and confident style as he tries to gain ground over popular Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. But some fear his conservative Christian values are out of step with everyday New Zealanders.
“I came into politics because I know how to solve problems and get things done,” Luxon said. “I have built a career reversing the fate of underperforming companies and will bring that real world experience to this role.”
He said his faith helps him take root, but he also sees a clear line between religion and politics.
Luxon, 51, is the fifth person to lead the National Party since Ardern came to power four years ago. The party suffered an electoral loss of historic proportions last year as Ardern’s response to the coronavirus proved hugely popular.
Luxon said the National Party is back. “We are the reset,” he said. “Today we are drawing a line on the events of the past four years, and putting them behind us.”
The popularity of Ardern and his Liberal Labor Party has declined somewhat in opinion polls since the last election, but former National Party Leader Judith Collins has been unable to capitalize, with most of the gains going to the party libertarian ACT. Collins was ousted last week by his caucus.
Simon Bridges, another former National Party leader, withdrew from the leadership contest earlier on Tuesday, paving the way for an undisputed victory for Luxon. The party chose Nicola Willis, 40, as Luxon deputy. Prior to becoming a legislator in 2018, Willis was a senior executive at New Zealand’s largest company, the Fonterra Dairy Cooperative.