Final vote count in New Zealand election tightens close race

Final vote count in New Zealand election tightens close race

Final vote count in New Zealand election tightens close race

The nationalist New Zealand First party is set to decide which parties will form a new government in Wellington after election officials on Saturday published the final vote count of the national election held on September 23.

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".

Either bloc would need the New Zealand First Party, which has nine seats, in order to govern government.

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

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

It is unclear what the sticking points will be for Peters, a politician who has served in previous National and Labour governments.

New Zealand has adopted a Mixed Member voting system, which gives voters two votes: one for a political party and one for their local electorate MP. 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.

In total, the incumbent conservative National Party received 44.4 percent of the vote, the Labour-Green alliance a combined 43.2 percent, and the nationalist New Zealand First party 7.6 percent.

"I remain as determined as ever to lead a strong, stable government for the next three years that will deliver on the hopes and aspirations of all New Zealanders", he said.

Why do Kiwis support NZ First?

"The fundamentals haven't altered, and that is National has significantly more seats than Labour, we are larger than a Labour-Greens combination". Both were short of the 61 needed for a majority, and were left reliant on New Zealand First's nine seats to form a coalition. Parties receive seats in Parliament in proportion to their party vote share while seats are filled firstly by winning electorate candidates and secondly by candidates on the party's list.

But New Zealand First's 72-year-old leader also opposes certain Labour Party tax plans, which could complicate negotiations with the Labour-Green alliance.

Peters has said he will make a final decision by October 12.

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