NZ First Party win balance of power

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.

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".

In the 120-seat parliament, the votes translate to 56 seats for National, 46 for Labour, nine for New Zealand First and eight for the Green Party.

The final results, announced on Saturday, make it easier for Labour and the Greens to form a coalition government with NZ First and they're now more optimistic about their chances.

Analysts expected the New Zealand dollar to show little reaction to the final results, given that the "special votes" had been widely expected to favour the left-leaning parties based on previous elections.

Prime Minister Bill English will stay in office until a new government has been formed.

A coalition of National and New Zealand First would hold 65 seats, while if Labour can woo both New Zealand First and the Greens, that grouping could claim 63 seats.

During the election, aspects of New Zealand First's platform resonated with Labour Party policies, including a curb on immigration and renegotiating trade deals.

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Green Party leader James Shaw echoed her words.

"I think on Monday the market is going to be a little bit subdued because basically nothing has changed", said Stuart Ive, private client manager at OM Financial. The combination would form a new government with a three-seat parliamentary majority.

"The results released today push us closer towards the change of government that so many New Zealanders want", he said.

Why do Kiwis support NZ First?

Despite the win, both the National Party and the Labour-Green alliance still lack the 61 seats needed for a parliamentary majority.

Peters has said he plans to make a decision this week.

At the start of the year, English - who replaced former National leader John Key in December - was in a strong position and looked set to continue Key's electoral success by winning a fourth term in office for his party.

The progress was touted by Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, who said that the "development buoyed [the party's] position at the negotiating table".

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