New Zealand Starts Counting Votes in Too-Close-To-Call Election

New Zealand Starts Counting Votes in Too-Close-To-Call Election

The New Zealand general election ended in stalemate on Saturday with official results showing the minority New Zealand First (NZF) party in a position to play kingmaker and in no hurry to decide which major party it will support.

Making the task harder for Mr English, the tiny Maori Party, whose two lawmakers helped National reach a majority in the last Parliament, has failed to secure any seats.

The results set up the nationalist New Zealand First Party to hold the balance of power and form the next government with 7.5 percent of the ballot.

Prime Minister Bill English has also been putting his human side on show this campaign, and playing to the National party's voter base - in a country reliant on agriculture.

"I want to acknowledge the strong performance of Winston Peters and New Zealand First".

"We'll make a decision in the interests of all New Zealand and New Zealand First, that is the whole country, not ourselves in the party but in the national interest and that will take some time", he added.

The National Party is unable to govern alone despite establishing a clear lead over Labour in the 2017 Election.

She said it was not just about the race but about what the party could do afterwards.

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

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

"We've run such an extraordinary campaign and we've had such support, it would be very hard for me to be depressed", he said.

"New Zealanders overwhelmingly voted for change", he said. In the next few days we will begin discussions with New Zealand First in finding common ground and most importantly forming the kind of Government that will allow New Zealand to get on with the success.

With the campaign over, who will be the next prime minister of New Zealand could come down to the quirks of the MMP [mixed member proportional voting] electoral system.

English and Ardern were expected to maintain fiscal prudence but will probably differ on monetary policy, trade and immigration.

The official election results - including special votes, such as those cast overseas and by people outside their home constituency - will not be known for two weeks.

Ms Ardern has been a game-shifter for the New Zealand Labour Party, appealing to the "young and urban", according to recently resigned leader of the party, Andrew Little.

Voter engagement was high, with more than 800,000 taking advantage of early voting by Thursday, nearly double the number who had done so at an equivalent point in the last election.

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