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Gap Between Labour And National Narrows With Final Votes Counted

With all the votes finally counted, the outcome has swung a little further in Labour’s favour. What does that mean for the next government?

by Tess McClure
07 October 2017, 2:02am

A full two weeks after the election, NZ's special votes are in, and the swing is toward theleft.

With the almost 390,000 special votes counted, National has lost two seats, and Labour and the Greens have each taken one.

The two-vote swing places Labour in a stronger position to form a government - in total, they and the Greens now hold 43.2 percent of the vote, against National's 44.4. The narrow gap somewhat weakens National's argument that they hold the greater "moral authority" to form the next government.

The new count takes a Labour-Greens coalition to 54 seats - with Labour on 46 and the Greens on 8 - compared to National's 56 seats. Winston Peters' NZ First party is still sitting on 9, making the coming week's coalition talks key to deciding the next government.

Both major parties have already put out statements. From National, current Prime Minister Bill English said "With all the votes now counted it is clear that National has finished ten seats ahead of the Labour Party and also ahead of the Labour/Green grouping."

"Now that the special votes have been counted it's time for political parties to get on with the job of forming a strong government to take New Zealand forward, and I look forward to engaging with Mr Peters and New Zealand First over the coming days to achieve that," he said.

Labour's Jacinda Ardern responded: "Today's result lifts Labour's final vote to 37 per cent, and the left block of seats to 54. The majority of people voted for a change to the status quo.

"This reinforces the mandate for negotiations to form a stable, durable and progressive Labour-led government, a government I would be proud to lead."

Winston Peters, who currently holds the balance of power, has committed to finalising negotiations by October 12.

The new count will bring in Greens' Golriz Ghahraman, who was teetering on the edge of a seat. A human rights lawyer, Ghahraman is New Zealand's first refugee MP. The losses for National look to be Maureen Pugh and Nicola Willis. Labour will bring in Angie Warren-Clark.

Special votes include votes cast from overseas, votes cast outside electorates, and votes cast by those enrolled less than two weeks before the election. With the early votes counted, this year's election has had the highest turnout since 2005.

Follow Tess on Twitter: @tessairini