According to Press TV, on Thursday, English garnered the majority support he needed from his 58 National Party colleagues in the parliament, effectively becoming the favored choice for prime minister.
Former Premier John Key had abruptly resigned earlier in the week.
In New Zealand, the contender who has the highest support in the House of Representatives, typically the leader of the party that has the most seats in that chamber, is selected by the representative of the British monarch as the country’s prime minister. Key has said he would remain the head of the National Party even as he quits prime ministership, but has endorsed English as the country’s next PM.
“At least 30 MPs have committed to backing English, meaning he has half of the votes of National’s 59-vote caucus,” the daily New Zealand Herald reported.
Opinion polls conducted by Radio New Zealand and Fairfax Media also confirmed that English was the favorite for the top job.
The results of the polling of parliament members within the ruling party made the presumptive prime minister’s two challengers — Police Minister Judith Collins and Health Minister Jonathon Coleman — withdraw their nominations.
“As far as I’m concerned, he has won,” Collins said. “I would like to say to my supporters that we should get in behind him and support Bill as the leader.”
A special caucus meeting to vote on the new leadership and officially announce the winner is scheduled for Monday.