New Zealand parliament dissolved ahead of October election

New Zealand's parliament has been dissolved. Politicians in the country are now gearing up to kick off their general election campaigns.

The incumbent prime minister has only been on the job for eight months. But Chris Hipkins is facing an uphill battle to hold onto his position.

The latest parliamentary session ended on Friday.
The candidates will now focus on the October 14 election.

Voters will decide whether to keep the ruling Labour Party in power or give the Conservative Party a chance.

Former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the date of the election when she stepped down in January. She justified her surprising resignation by saying that she had "no more in the tank to lead the country."

Hipkins took over the top job the same month. He was minister in charge of the country's coronavirus response under Ardern. But his party has been lagging behind in the polls.

Surveys show the conservative coalition is favored to win after six years in the opposition. The coalition is led by political newcomer Christopher Luxon. He entered politics in 2019. Luxon ran Air New Zealand for seven years before that.

The high cost of living, housing, crime, and other domestic issues are expected to dominate the campaigns.

China's increasing activities in the Pacific may also be on voters' minds when they cast their ballots.