New Zealand's ruling Nationals win most votes, NZ First Party kingmaker

Mr English said he would talk with New Zealand First (NZF) party leader Winston Peters in the coming days and that his National Party, which won 46 per cent of the vote, was in the strongest position to deliver a stable government.

In Christchurch Central, Labour's Duncan Webb beat sitting National MP and Cabinet minister Nicky Wagner, who had won the seat in the last two elections.

New Zealand's ruling party today won the most votes in country's parliamentary election but not enough to form a government on its own.

Jacinda Ardern, the charismatic 37-year-old who only became Labour Party leader in August, is vying to become New Zealand's third female prime minister and the youngest in modern history.

New Zealand's conservative Prime Minister Bill English raced to a strong start in early election counting Saturday, September 23 although the figures still gave opposition leader Jacinda Ardern a realistic prospect of forming government.

Under New Zealand's proportional voting system, large parties typically have to form alliances with smaller parties in order to govern. "We respect the negotiation process".

For English, who campaigned heavily on National's economic credentials after taking the party leadership past year, the strong showing was a vindication after National crashed to its worst ever election result in 2002 under his first stint as leader.

She said she was willing to work with anyone who shared Labour's values. Victory for us was always about victory for them. The elevation of Ardern to the leadership changed all that - she electrified the campaign and created a wave of excitement that saw her party jump to level pegging with National.

"Suddenly an alternative Labour-led government (was really) looking viable", Grant Duncan, an expert on New Zealand politics at Massey University, told CNN earlier this month.

Even though National remains the biggest party in parliament, there is no obligation for Peters to choose it over Labour. New Zealanders voted for a change - more parties voted against National than for it. With just 5.9 per cent of the vote the Greens have lost half of their 14 seats in parliament, a effect of the complex fallout after Metiria Turei revealed her historic benefit fraud.

"So many New Zealanders supported us. because through this campaign, we had the opportunity to share our challenging ideas about how to solve New Zealand's most pressing problems".

She said Labour would continue to pursue and focus on the issues they had campaigned on - housing, health and education.

"I would expect us to get a bit of a lift out of those special votes", said Ardern.

She talked about contacting James Shaw.

Figures released by New Zealand election authorities show a record 1.2 million people chose to cast their votes before election day on Saturday.

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