3 weeks from New Zealand election, poll puts liberals ahead

Three weeks before a general election, the dramatic rise of New Zealand opposition leader Jacinda Ardern has been highlighted by an opinion poll that puts her liberal party ahead of the ruling conservatives for the first time in more than a decade.

The unexpected result caused the New Zealand dollar to drop late Thursday before regaining some ground as traders priced in an uncertain election outcome.

Commissioned by Television New Zealand, the poll indicated that Ardern's Labour Party is favored by 43 percent of voters, compared to 41 percent who favor the incumbent National Party, led by Prime Minister Bill English.

A similar poll taken just before 37-year-old Ardern took the reins a month ago showed the Labour Party on 24 percent support and the National Party on 47 percent.