National wins the most votes in New Zealand’s election but Ardern says race isn’t over

Incumbent New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English predicted his Labour opponent Jacinda Ardern’s “stardust” would fade and if early election results are an indicator of the final result, he could be right.

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The National Party had 46.1 percent of the votes with over 97 percent of results counted, while Labour had 35.7 percent of the votes, according to the Electoral Commission.

New Zealand First had 7.5 percent of the votes, putting it position to hold the balance of power in the German-style proportional representation system.

Ardern said the expectation was to speak to New Zealand First as quickly as they could.

“Let’s keep doing this,” the relentlessly optimistic @jacindaardern says. #nzelection pic老站出售,/O2sgxSiLIV

— Nastasya Tay (@NastasyaTay) September 23, 2017″Obviously we hoped for better,” says @jacindaardern as she emerges from her barbecue and heads speechwards. #nzelection

— Nastasya Tay (@NastasyaTay) September 23, 2017

NZ First is on 7.1 per cent and the Greens on 6.1 per cent.

With those levels of support in the party vote, National would have 57 seats in a 120-member parliament and Labour 45.

#NZelection night is about possibility: holding onto the possibilities of coalitions you can form. Right now both leaders could still be PM

— Nastasya Tay (@NastasyaTay) September 23, 2017With 42% #nzelection votes counted, National stretching their 10 pt lead. No champagne popping in the exceptionally long Labour bar queue.

— Nastasya Tay (@NastasyaTay) September 23, 2017

National would be just short of a majority, and even with ACT’s one seat would still need NZ First to get over the line.

In 2014 there was some slight difference between the advance vote results and the final figures, but they were a good indicator of where each party finished.

National that year dropped slightly from 47.85 per cent to 47.04 per cent between the advanced and final votes while Labour went up a touch from 24.49 per cent to 25.13 per cent.

But that’s not an indicator that the same will happen this year, when there’s been a huge surge in advanced votes.

NZ Green leader says wants to form Coalition with Labour and NZ First

New Zealand Green Party leader James Shaw said on Saturday he would be willing to work with Labour Party to form a government with the populist New Zealand First Party as counting showed the ruling National Party on track to secure the most votes but fall short of an outright majority.

Shaw said his message for New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters was that now was the time to put differences aside and work with Labour to overthrow the incumbent Nationals.

His comments came after 93.7 percent of the results counted showed Labour on 35.7 percent of the vote and centre-right National on 46.2 percent.

Those results suggested either major party would need New Zealand First to form the next government. The Greens have a working agreement with Labour.

The final tally of all votes would not be released until Oct. 7.

0:00 Jacinda vs Bill: The race for New Zealand Share Jacinda vs Bill: The race for New Zealand

The campaign has been the most volatile in recent memory, with momentum swinging from English to Ardern and then back again. 

“This election is going to be really close… it’s a drag race between the two big parties,” English said on the hustings Friday, conceding a large undecided vote could prove key. 

Under New Zealand’s strict election laws, exit polls are not allowed during election-day voting which opened at 9am (2100 GMT Friday) and closed at 7pm (0700 GMT). 

However, a firm indication of the outcome is expected within three-and-a-half hours of the close. 

There were 3.2 million registered voters of which 1.24 million cast an early vote. 

We won’t get the special/int’l #nzelection vote count AT ALL tonight. Last elex it was 13.5% of ballots. It could make all the difference.

— Nastasya Tay (@NastasyaTay) September 23, 2017With 10% of #nzelection votes counted: National on 46.1%, Labour on 36.6%, Greens 6%. Neck and neck between right and left.

— Nastasya Tay (@NastasyaTay) September 23, 2017

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No party has claimed a majority government in New Zealand’s 120-seat parliament since proportional voting was adopted in 1996 and this election is unlikely to change that. 

Pre-election opinion polls showed either English’s conservative National Party or Ardern’s centre-left Labour could be in a position to form a government late Saturday. 

Another possibility was that there will be no immediate winner with both major parties seeking coalition partners to get them over the line. 

If that happens, populist anti-immigration campaigner Winston Peters’ New Zealand First party looms as a potential kingmaker.

Ardern was hoping for a high youth vote to counter her dip in the polls in the final week of campaigning and visited universities across the country encouraging students to cast their ballots.

“This is going to come down to whether or not people turn out and vote,” she said Friday.

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— Nastasya Tay (@NastasyaTay) September 23, 2017’Jacindamania’

English’s National Party was in the driving seat to win a fourth term until Ardern took over the Labour Party last month. 

The 37-year-old galvanised support for the ailing centre-left party, giving it a 20-point popularity boost to bring it level with National.

Arden accused the government of inertia, saying that after three terms it has run out of ideas on issues such as housing affordability and protecting the environment. 

Her policy platform includes free tertiary education and slashing immigration to reduce pressure on housing and infrastructure.

Ardern is bidding to become New Zealand’s youngest leader since 1856 and only the third woman to lead the South Pacific nation of 4.6 million people. 

But the “Jacinda-mania” phenomenon waned as English attacked her financial credibility while pointing to his economic record over the past nine years.

0:00 Young New Zealand voters on the issues that matter Share Young New Zealand voters on the issues that matter

The 55-year-old ex-farmer and father-of-six, who took over as prime minister when John Key stepped down last December, argued only National can maintain strong economic growth. 

English also wants to make amends for his last leadership foray in 2002, when National slumped to a record defeat and won barely 20 percent of the vote. 

While tipping a close race, he is confident National can win a fourth term, a feat no New Zealand government has achieved in more than 50 years. 

The wildcard for both English and Ardern is Peters, whose party could decide the outcome of the election if it is as tight as polls predict. 

The 72-year-old political veteran has shown in the past that he will back either side if the right offer is made. 

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.