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Prendergast waits as country swings left

Published: 7:01PM Sunday October 10, 2010 Source: ONE News

The right-wing Wellington mayor is clinging on to her seat by a whisker as the country's other main centres show a swing to the left.

However, there is a strong possibility the capital's leadership could change with Mayor Kerry Prendergast holding a wafer-thin 40 vote margin over Celia Wade-Brown.

The incumbent Wellington mayor has a nervous two-day wait to see if she holds her position with the final count on 1000 special votes due on Monday making the race too tight to call.

"It made it more difficult this time as I was the only centre - centre-right candidate - all the others were on the left," Prendergast said.

She said that holding onto a fourth term was always going to be difficult.

"It was a hard race fought by Celia, so we always knew it was going to be close."

The mayor confirmed that if she does win the mayoralty this time, it would definitely be her last term in office.

Prendergast is opposed to the area following Auckland's lead in becoming a Super City.

"I don't think the problems that Auckland had are replicated here, but it's clear that we can't stay the same. There will need to be some changes."

Left-leaning

Green Party candidate Celia Wade-Brown is confident she will be the one making changes in the capital.

"I think people are ready for a change. I am more favouring of bus priorities, cycling, walking and less favourable of doubling the Mount Victoria tunnel," she said.

If Wade-Brown edges Prendergast, the country's main centres - including Auckland and Dunedin - would have left-wing mayors, except for Bob Parker in Christchurch.

"If I had won here as well this could have been seen as a seismic shift in politics nationally. So I think there was a very significant effort here to get out the National Party vote," said unsuccessful Christchurch mayoral candidate Jim Anderton.

Former Labour minister Harry Duynhoven is the new mayor of New Plymouth and in Wanganui right-wing Michael Laws is out and left-leaning Annette Main is in.

However, despite the left swing at local government level political opinion polls still show strong support for the National government.

But political commentators say the new make up of local councils could change this.

"If Labour can't become the champion of the unease that is out there, it really is struggling. The moment Phil Goff (Labour leader) can take on some connection with the people or they get a new leader, is the moment National will go sour," said political commentator Chris Trotter.

Whether the capital closes the door on right-wing leadership will be decided on Wednesday.

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