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New Zealand election stalemate leaves maverick Peters as kingmaker

24 September 2017

"As you know on tonight's provisional results, National has won more seats that Labour and the Greens combined".

English said while Seymour had made it back to Parliament, National needed more than his one seat to form a government so while it had had a positive relationship with Act, "we have to negotiate with a different party".

When the election was announced in February, many assumed the result would be a slam-dunk for National Party leader Bill English, who took over from John Key in December.

New Zealand's conservative Prime Minister Bill English raced to a strong start in early election counting Saturday, September 23 although the figures still gave opposition leader Jacinda Ardern a realistic prospect of forming government.

Opinion polls leading up to the vote had been volatile with two recent ones giving National a near 10 point lead over Labour.

In her own speech to supporters, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern admitted she had not done as well as she would have liked.

"There's still a lot in play at the moment", she said.

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

She told supporters she had called National leader Bill English to discuss the result, conceding neither of them would determine the election outcome.

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In the past, he has raised concerns about New Zealand becoming an "Asian colony" and warned about migrants taking jobs from locals.

Greens leader James Shaw dismissed a coalition with National saying he was "committed to a change of government".

The National Party, which has held government for the past three terms, attacked her financial credibility, arguing that only English had the experience to maintain strong economic growth.

Both parties are now courting the populist New Zealand First party, which won nine seats, to form a coalition.

"It's up to New Zealand First, pretty much", said Bramwell.

That equates to about half of all the votes likely to be cast in the nation of just under 5 million people. With just 5.9 per cent of the vote the Greens have lost half of their 14 seats in parliament, a effect of the complex fallout after Metiria Turei revealed her historic benefit fraud.

"There was a majority that voted for change".

So in addressing the nation after 11 o'clock last night, English wasted no time in declaring his intention to deal with Peters, to respect him and effectively to seek his party's help in addressing the regional and social issues highlighted so starkly in the torrid election campaign. "So Winston Peters rules", said Bryce Edwards, analyst at Wellington-based Critical Politics.

The official results of the election won't be released until October 7, when special votes - ballots cast overseas or by those who enrolled and voted at the same time, Bramwell said - are fully accounted for.

New Zealand election stalemate leaves maverick Peters as kingmaker