New Zealand First holds balance of power after indecisive election

The final votes from the New Zealand election have been counted, with the ruling National Party winning 44.4% of the votes and the opposition Labour Party won 36.9%.

This leaves the National Party with 56 seats and Labour with 46, both short of the 61 seats needed to govern outright in the 120 seat parliament.

The New Zealand First Party, a populist nationalist party, won 7.2%, and the Green Party won 6.3%, leaving them with nine and eight seats, respectively.

With the Green Party in a working agreement with the Labour Party, this leaves New Zealand First holding the balance of power.

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters now plays the role of kingmaker, saying he will decide by October 12th who he will form a coalition government with.

Mr Peters has previously held the balance of power three times, and has formed coalition governments with both the National Party and Labour.

Playing on the recent wave of anti-establishment sentiment in elections, Mr Peters has described New Zealand First as a “common sense party”.

“We believe in laws and policies that support the mass majority of New Zealand and not just a small elite who may have got control of the political system,” he said.

Experts are unsure who Mr Peters is most likely to form government with, as while the policies of New Zealand first line up more closely with Labour, the coalition would also include the Greens Party.

If he forms a coalition with the Nationals it will be a much simpler arrangement, potentially giving him more influence over policies.

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