Odds of a centre-left govt improve after final vote count

Published: Sat 7 Oct 2017 05:40 PM
Odds of a centre-left govt improve after final vote count
By Pattrick Smellie
Oct. 7 (BusinessDesk) - The parliamentary arithmetic has improved for the formation of a centre-left government following the release of the final count from the Sept. 23 general election by the Electoral Commission this afternoon.
The final count, which includes some 384,000 special votes or around 15 percent of total votes cast, has delivered one additional seat each to the Labour and Green parties, reducing the National Party's election night tally to 56 seats, five seats short of a majority in New Zealand's 120-seat single chamber Parliament.
Green Party leader James Shaw was the first political party leader to react, welcoming new MP Golriz Ghahraman, who came to New Zealand as a child and refugee from Afghanistan, and saying arguing for a "full coalition" with the Labour and New Zealand First parties to form the "first true MMP Parliament" since the country moved to proportional representation voting in 1996.
“The results released today push us closer towards the change of government that so many New Zealanders want,” he said.
It also brings the balance between the centre-right and centre-left blocks closer, with Labour and the Greens holding 54 seats between them, two fewer than National, rather than the six seat gap delivered on election night.
The leaders of the National, Labour and Green parties are all due to make statements before 3.30pm this afternoon, but no word has emerged yet from the camp of the so-called 'king' or 'queen-maker' Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First party, whose election night tally remains at nine seats and gives him the balance of power.
The Act party continues to hold one parliamentary seat that could assist National in government, but is essentially irrelevant to coalition negotiations.
The new balance of possibilities means that if National and NZ First were to ally to form a government, the new government would have a notional majority of 11 seats, including Act.
If Labour, the Greens and NZ First ally, they would have a parliamentary majority of six, far more comfortable than the two seat majority delivered on election night, and which Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has indicated might make negotiation of a centre-left government unviable.
Shaw said that with the Greens and NZ First more evenly balanced at eight and nine seats respectively, there was "a case for a level of proportionality" in the allocation of Cabinet portfolios between the two minor parties.
He expected coalition negotiations to start "quite soon", as Peters has nominated a deadline of Oct. 12, next Thursday, as the date by which he will choose which way to jump.
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The Wellington-based BusinessDesk team led by former Bloomberg Asian top editor Jonathan Underhill and Qantas Award-winning journalist and commentator Pattrick Smellie provides a daily news feed for a serious business audience.
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