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National leads in early NZ election count
24 September 2017, 12:29 | Floyd Cook
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With 98.9% of the vote counted on Saturday night, New Zealand's ruling National party has won 46% of the vote to Labour's 35.8%.
The results secured 58 seats for National in parliament, and 45 for Labour.
He said there was no need to "rush" coalition talks, but it was important to move "reasonably quickly to form a stable government", and National's dominant numbers made it the obvious choice.
English's National Party was in the driving seat to win a 4th term until Ardern took over the Labor Party last month.
Prime Minister Bill English said, "I want to acknowledge the strong performance of [New Zealand First leader] Winston Peters and New Zealand First".
Under the proportional voting system in New Zealand, large parties typically must form alliances with smaller ones in order to govern.
"We have been strong enough and honest enough with our supporters to make it home", he said.
He pointed out that National outpolled Labour and the Greens combined, saying voters had shown a clear preference for the centre-right party.
For English, who campaigned heavily on National's economic credentials after taking the party leadership a year ago, the strong showing was a vindication after National crashed to its worst ever election result in 2002 under his first stint as leader.
English said he thinks the televised debates between the two candidates helped swing the momentum his way, as people focused more on the issues and how policy changes would affect them.
In the past, he has raised concerns about New Zealand becoming an "Asian colony" and warned about migrants taking jobs from locals.
Having worked with the Maori Party, Act and United Future over these past terms, English believed National knew the process of government forming and knew it had to be undertaken with respect.
She said she still hoped to become prime minister as part of a Labour-Greens-NZF coalition, despite Mr Peters' historic differences of opinion with the Greens. New Zealanders voted for a change - more parties voted against National than for it.
"We'll make a decision in the interests of all New Zealand and New Zealand First, that is the whole country, not ourselves in the party but in the national interest and that will take some time", he added.
Peters, who has backed National and Labour governments in the past, refused to say which way he'll go.
"The final fight at midnight will still be in the hands of New Zealand First", Jim Peters said.
Votes for the Green Party, which has a working agreement with Labour, reached 5.8 per cent. "So Winston Peters rules", said Bryce Edwards, analyst at Wellington-based Critical Politics.
"I would expect us to get a bit of a lift out of those special votes", said Ardern.
There were 3.2 million New Zealanders registered to vote in the election, with a record 1.2 million of them opting to cast ballots early.
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