SYDNEY – The center-right New Zealand National Party, which governed the country between 2008-2017, elected 41-year-old Simon Bridges as its new leader on Tuesday, the party announced on Twitter.
Bridges is a former minister for transport and for economic development.
He will replace Bill English, who quit politics after leading the party to defeat in the elections, held on Sept. 23 last year.
The party also confirmed Paula Bennett as the party’s deputy leader.
“I’m honoured to be elected as @NZNationalParty Leader today – it’s an enormous privilege. My focus will be on presenting an ambitious and strong alternative Government heading into 2020,” Bridges said on Twitter.
In his first public remarks, Bridges stressed the weakness of the alliances that allowed Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern’s center-left Labour Party to form a government.
Ardern controls 63 seats in the 120-member single-chamber parliament. The Labour Party has 46 seats, the Winston Peters-led New Zealand First party has nine, and the Green Party has eight.
The National Party is the main opposition party with 56 seats while the ACT Party has one.
New Zealand goes to the polls every three years.