27 Sep 2016

Helen Clark seventh in latest UN poll

12:14 pm on 27 September 2016

Helen Clark finished seventh out of nine candidates in the latest United Nations straw poll as the race to succeed Ban ki-Moon as UN Secretary-General heats up.

Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and current head of the UN Development Programme, addresses the press to discuss her candidacy for UN secretary general after a hearing before UN member states in New York on April 14, 2016.

In previous ballots Helen Clark has finished seventh or eighth. Photo: AFP

The 15-member Security Council cast a ballot for each of the remaining nine candidates with the choices of: encourage, discourage or no opinion

The former New Zealand prime minister had six votes in her favour, nine discourage votes and no 'no opinion' votes.

Former Portuguese prime minister António Guterres remains in first place with 12 votes, and former Serbian foreign ministrer Vuk Jeremić moved up to second place with eight votes.

Miss Clark's placing is similar to previous rounds, where she has finished seventh or eighth, but this time she received more 'discourage' votes.

The poll is aimed at giving candidates an idea of how much support they have from Security Council members.

Prime Minister John Key said Miss Clark will be a "bit disappointed" but the result did not change anything.

The vote on 5 October in which the five permanent members can indicate who they would veto will be more important.

"At that point we'll get a sense of what vetos they apply potentially not just to Helen Clark but to other candidates. If they start taking out some of the front-runners that gives her a gap to come through."

Before today's result, Miss Clark said the ballots had been very volatile, with some people remaining steady, while others moved around a lot.

She said the real games would begin in the first week of October, but she was not expecting to receive a veto vote, because she said New Zealand was viewed as an independent and fair-minded country.

The Security Council will hold secret ballots until a consensus is reached on a candidate to replace Ban Ki-moon who steps down at the end of 2016 after serving two five-year terms.

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said at the next ballot, on 5 October, ballots cast by the five veto powers - the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia - would be a different color from the votes of the remaining 10 council members, though they remain anonymous.

This allowed candidates to see if they could be facing a veto, he said.

- RNZ / Reuters

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