New Zealand coalition talks intensify as final tally confirms political deadlock

08 October, 2017, 01:18 | Author: Anita Tucker
  • Political reporters on stakeout in Parliament

National leader Bill English is putting a courageous face on the loss of two seats in the final count from the September 23 general election, which could spell the end of nine years of National Party-led governments in New Zealand.

Last week's election results show that rising party New Zealand First, led by outspoken Winston Peters, holds the balance of power for a coalition.

The Green Party, which has a working agreement with Labour, took 6.3 per cent of the ballot.

Peters, leader of the nationalist New Zealand First party, said on Twitter that he would speak with the National Party in the morning and Labour in the afternoon, in the country's capital, Wellington.

In his statement, English emphasised that National had finished with 10 more seats than Labour and that "voters had a clear choice at the election between the two major parties that had a realistic prospect of leading the next government".

'We will continue our negotiations in earnest with potential support parties, beginning this weekend'.

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Peters held short meetings with Labour and National this week but has repeatedly said the real negotiations would not take place before all the votes had been counted.

But Mr English's main challenger, Labour's Jacinda Ardern, could still form government.

"Today's results lift Labour's final vote to 37 per cent and the left block of seats to 54 - the majority of people voted for a change to the status quo", Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said. The Green Party, at 6.3percent, lost nearly five percentage points on its 2014 tally following a disastrous start to its campaign when co-leader Metiria Turei resigned over self-confessed benefit and electoral system rorts. Both will need to form a coalition with New Zealand First if they are to form a viable government.

A Labour, Greens, NZ First coalition would now hold a three-seat majority after the final tally.

"I don't think it weakens it significantly at all", he said, referring to National's negotiating position.

Why do Kiwis support NZ First?

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ACT has secured one seat in 2017 elections and Maori Party has been left out of the Parliament this time.

Ardern, meanwhile, highlighted that most electors had voted for change.

But some say Peters could be swayed to go to National given it would be a straightforward coalition between two parties.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters told local media that knowing the facts "puts us in a better position to make judgements" but would only make a decision on which party to back after the final tally and after the results become official.

Over the past nine years of National government, Peters has repeatedly opined on his many "bottom lines" if he were to form a coalition government.

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