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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, December 14, 2017

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New Zealand’s most volatile race ends in stalemate

General Election

Share on Facebook September 24, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 411

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand - In what became one of New Zealand’s most volatile and hard-fought race in recent history - the country came out in large numbers, to cast their vote in the General Election on Saturday.

Of the 3.2 million registered New Zealanders, a record 1.2 million voters cast ballots early in an election that was predicted to be a neck-to-neck race. 

The Electoral Commission said early on Sunday that New Zealand's ruling National Party took 46 percent of votes, but will still need New Zealand First to form a government.

The ruling party’s 46 percent translates to 58 seats in the 120 member Congress in an Mixed-Member Proportional voting system.

The Electoral Commission noted that the centre-left opposition Labour Party had received 35.8 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, its ally the Green Party received 5.8 percent votes. 

New Zealand First was on 7.5 percent, casting the populist party as the kingmaker in the country's proportional representation system.

The early results show that the country’s third largest party is now an indispensable coalition partner for both the National Party and the Labor Party to form the government.

Analysts noted that the Labor Party and its ally would manage to make enough seats to form a government if they can successfully get the New Zealand First Party on board.

The National Party, which is seeking a fourth consecutive term in office, welcomed the results.

Prime Minister Bill English, who led his party to its worst-ever defeat in 2002, and became finance minister in 2008 when his party was led to victory by John Key, said in a statement, “The voters have spoken and now we have the responsibility of working to give New Zealand a strong and stable government.”

English took the top job last December when Key resigned.

On Saturday, he thanked center-left Labour Party’s Jacinda Ardern for a hard-fought campaign, adding that it had motivated and engaged more New Zealanders than any campaign he could remember.

Adding, “We gave it everything, and we got better and better.”

Meanwhile, Ardern said she called English to acknowledge to him that his party won more votes. 

She added she couldn’t predict what decisions the leaders of other parties might now make.

Explaining, “I’ve come off the field knowing we gave it our all.”

New Zealand First maverick Winston Peters meanwhile said on Saturday that he would not be giving any answers over the next day or two until there was time for further consultation.

With the final tally, including overseas votes set to be released on October 7 and negotiations set to take days or weeks before a deal is struck between the future governing partners - New Zealanders may need to wait for days or even weeks to confirm whether English will retain the top job.

BNN

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