Since Todd Muller announced his resignation as leader of the National Party, speculation has grown by politicians and political commentators as to who will take over his role.

Muller revealed this morning he was to quit for health reasons, plunging the National Party into turmoil just 67 days before the general election.

National MPs are meeting by teleconference this morning to decide what should happen now, and are understood to be shocked by the announcement.

As the party scrambles to find its new leader, here's a look at the potential politicians and candidates who have been speculated to take on the job.

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Judith Collins

Peter Dunne told Newstalk ZB that Judith Collins was in a strong position to take the leadership, even though this year's election was likely to be lost.

"It's staunching the wound that's important ... she's probably best-placed to do that."

Former MP Peter Dunne believes Judith Collins is the best candidate to take on the role of the National leader after Todd Muller announced his shock resignation. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Former MP Peter Dunne believes Judith Collins is the best candidate to take on the role of the National leader after Todd Muller announced his shock resignation. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Backbench MPs would today "be looking to a leader who can give them the best protection" at the election, he said.

Dunne believed one of the biggest beneficiaries could be the Act Party, as voters looked for right-of-centre alternatives given National's troubles.

Meanwhile, Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper believes the National Party will look to Collins as leader, but says it will be somewhat of a poison chalice for her.

Right-wing political commentator Ben Thomas told Newstalk ZB that other than former leader Simon Bridges, the leading contender was Collins.

Simon Bridges

Former National leader Simon Bridges. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Former National leader Simon Bridges. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Thomas believed National now needed someone straight out of the box – including possibly Simon Bridges.

"I think he will fight for his job back."

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Thomas speculated there might be a "smoking gun" coming, and this was a catalyst for Muller's resignation.

"He was clearly struggling with caucus discipline," said Thomas, referring to the Hamish Walker scandal.

Act leader David Seymour said National had a number of options for leader but how they chose in the next 48 hours would have a major affect on New Zealand "because we need to have a competitive election".

"You have to ask, at what point do you bring Simon Bridges back. He got to 40 per cent polling," he said.

Mark Mitchell

Rodney MP Mark Mitchell. Photo / Doug Sherring
Rodney MP Mark Mitchell. Photo / Doug Sherring

The Herald's senior political writer Claire Trevett said Mark Mitchell is likely to put his hand up for the job as well as Judith Collins. Both put their names up in 2018 when Bridges won it, although Mitchell withdrew to back Bridges instead.

Mitchell has made no secret of his ambition for the job.

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