After a night to sleep on it, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters appears no closer to a decision on who he’ll side with to form a government.
National, Labour and the Green Party are all lining up to court him for his support but he says he won’t be making a decision without consulting the party board and his MP colleagues.
The kingmaker emerged from the Duke of Marlborough Hotel at 10.30am on Sunday after a long night celebrating the party’s position of power.
It was one of few things for the party to celebrate though. Mr Peters lost his Northland electorate and NZ First’s party vote dropped to 7.5 per cent, giving them nine seats, two fewer than in 2014.
By mid-Sunday morning Mr Peters was yet to speak to either National leader Bill English or Labour’s Jacinda Ardern but had begun the calls to party colleagues to discuss the options.
“Things could change marginally and in the meantime we’ve just got to wait and see what that means and talk to my colleagues over the next few days and then we’ll tell you what we’re prepared to do,” he said.
Those conversations with colleagues have begun but Mr Peters is remaining coy on what his party will use as bottom lines for negotiations.
National holds 58 seats and its partner ACT one seat, leaving it two seats short of a majority in the 120-member parliament.
Labour and the Greens together have 52 seats, and with NZ First’s nine seats a three-way coalition would have 61, a bare majority.
That’s the challenge Ms Ardern is taking on.
Mr English considers he has a mandate to form a fourth term National-led government and has said he’ll open negotiations with Mr Peters in the next few days.
Ms Ardern will be talking to the Greens, Labour’s natural partner, and Mr Peters.
Labour says the 61 seats of the three opposition parties indicate most voters want change.
Coalition negotiations with Mr Peters aren’t expected to be determined until at least October 7 when the final results, including special votes, are in.
Mr Peters has set October 12 as his deadline for a decision.