New Zealand Polls Close After Nail-Biting Race, Record Numbers Vote in Advance

Frederick Owens
September 24, 2017

New Zealand uses a German-style proportional representation system in which a party, or combination of parties, needs 61 of Parliament's 120 members - usually about 48 percent of the vote - to form a government.

Leader of NZF Winston Peters gave no indication which of the two blocs his New Zealand First - and its nine seats from 7.5 per cent of the vote - would support.

Jacinda Ardern, the charismatic 37-year-old who only became Labour Party leader in August, is vying to become New Zealand's third female prime minister and the youngest in modern history.

It sounded more like a stump speech than one created to win Winston and influence New Zealand First or one that expressed commiserations for the three MPs who have lost seats, Mojo Mathers, Barry Coates and Denise Roche.

Upon Ms Ardern taking the position, Mr Little told New Zealand's TV 1 News, "I take responsibility for that and it is my judgement that the party and the people who we are campaigning for will be better served by a new leader who can bring a fresh face and a fresh voice to this vital campaign".

English's campaigning went better than many expected, including himself.

The numbers say she is an alternative Prime Minister but her tone did not suggest it. The largest opposition Labour Party won 45 seats, up from its pre-election 31.

"We are going into negotiations with the intention of forming a stable government that enables this country to deliver for New Zealanders", English reportedly said.

Labour had surged in recent weeks under new leader Jacinda Ardern.

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She appeared deflated addressing the party faithful after the vote, saying she had given her all and apologising for not achieving enough.

In 1996, he helped install a National-led government in return for being made deputy prime minister, then in 2005 he joined a Labour coalition after being given the job of foreign minister.

The election was largely focused on the economy, with National attempting to highlight its positive record, and housing prices, a key topic of attack for Labour.

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

The elevation of Ardern to the leadership changed all that - she electrified the campaign and created a wave of excitement that saw her party jump to level pegging with National.

"The most likely scenario is we are going to have to wait two weeks when the final verdict is in from the Electoral Commission because it is just going to be so close", he said.

There are 3.2 million registered voters, more than a million of whom have cast their ballots early.

"We believe in laws and policies that support the mass majority of New Zealanders and not just a small elite".

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