New Zealand PM English makes strong start in early election count

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is set to be kingmaker, as the New Zealand election on Saturday ended with neither major party securing a majority to form government. Their vote shares mean that the National Party bagged 58 seats and the Labour Party, 45.

With no single party able to form a government alone, NZ First's 7.5 percent suggests Mr Peters will effectively decide the make-up of Parliament for the next three years.

National and Labour had been nearly neck and neck in opinion polls, with charismatic 37-year old Jacinda Ardern nearly single-handedly dragging Labour back into the race after taking over the party's leadership in August.

Under strict election day laws New Zealand does not allow exit polls during voting, which opened at 9am (2100 GMT Friday) and closed at 7pm (0700 GMT).

"There's conversations that need to be had and we're open to those", she said.

Despite slipping in the polls, Labour has remained optimistic.

Ms Ardern, 37, has enjoyed a remarkable surge in popularity since taking over as opposition leader last month.

"We hoped we could have done better and we'll do better than those polls are showing right now as they trend upwards".

"I wish I could answer your question, honestly I wish I could because I've had it asked of me 1,000 times in the last five weeks", he told Radio New Zealand this week.




Morgan, bellicose to the end, told Newshub he was "disappointed in New Zealanders, basically".

But it sounded like a concession speech instead of someone who leads by far the biggest party in an alternative combination of parties to National.

"Seven weeks ago I stood in front of the press and New Zealand as the newly elected leader of the New Zealand Labour Party".

"It's all over, bar the special votes - but even they won't change the basic maths". Labour won 35.8 percent of the vote.

"He will be well aware that we have pretty strong support from the New Zealand public, significantly stronger than any other party and I'm sure he will respect that".

She said Labour would continue to pursue and focus on the issues they had campaigned on - housing, health and education. "So Winston Peters rules", said Bryce Edwards, analyst at Wellington-based Critical Politics.

Citizens of New Zealand and Germany living in Australia will get to cast their ballots in their country's elections, with both nations heading to the polls this weekend. And before that she can look forward to pointing her energised and enlarged caucus in the direction of a tiring fourth-term government, hobbling along with one leg tied to New Zealand First.

In the past, the party formed a ruling coalition with National and has been a non-cabinet ally of Labour.

"We've run such an extraordinary campaign and we've had such support, it would be very hard for me to be depressed", he said.

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