New Zealand's Muldoon forces out top ministerial antagonist

New Zealand's quiet political waters erupted this week with the resignation of Derek Quigley from Prime Minister Robert Muldoon's Cabinet.

Muldoon and Quigley, minister of works, development, and housing, have quarreled since 1980, when Quigley led a challenge to Muldoon's leadership of the National Party.

Muldoon forced the resignation after Quigley said the party's ''think big'' election strategy, which promotes a handful of energy projects, was not being properly ''sold'' by the government. Muldoon accused Quigley of disloyalty and offered him a choice: resign or apologize. Quigley resigned.

Quigley is still in Parliament, but Muldoon's ultimatum removed him as a potential deputy leader. If Quigley resigns from Parliament as well, he would create a ''hung Parliament,'' giving the Social Credit Party, which holds only two seats, the balance of power and almost certainly spurring early parliamentary elections. If a vote were scheduled to be held soon, Muldoon would almost certainly lose.

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