Clark's UN leadership bid stalls

Helen Clark (Getty)
Helen Clark (Getty)

Helen Clark's campaign remains on a knife-edge after her support remained unchanged in the third straw poll for the UN leadership.

The 15 members of the Security Council vote either encourage, discourage or no opinion on each candidate. The former New Zealand Prime Minister got two more discourage votes than encourage on Tuesday morning - the same as in the previous poll.

Former Labour leader David Shearer, who spent nearly two decades working for the UN, spoke to Paul Henry on Tuesday before the results of the poll were released. He said a bad result wouldn't automatically mean her bid is doomed.

"If there's a standoff between the United States and Russia - and right at the moment the United States seems to be opposing everything Russia does, and vice versa - then if they cancel each other's candidates out, there's a chance for Helen to come through the middle… that was always going to be the way."

The permanent five members of the Security Council have veto powers over any candidate - so if Russia and the US for example oppose each other's preferred candidate, Ms Clark may be the compromise both sides can live with.

If it becomes clear Ms Clark won't be the choice, Mr Shearer says it might be time for her to concentrate on her day job - running the UNDP.

"The fact she increased her discourages in the second straw poll was a bit disappointing," says Mr Shearer.

"If that continues, that trend, and goes down, and there are other candidates who are obviously rising, she may well look at what her options are."

If unsuccessful in her bid to become Secretary-General, Ms Clark is likely to still see out her current term at the UNDP.

Former Portugal Prime Minister António Guterres topped the second straw poll, with only two discourage votes - it's believed New Zealand was one, Russia the other.