Let's cut to the chase - both National and Labour need Winston Peter's support to form a Government and here's why:
With around 300,000 special votes still to be counted only five parties have made it back into Parliament:
- National - 46 percent of the party vote
- Labour - 35.8 percent
- New Zealand First - 7.5 percent
- Green Party - 5.9 percent
- ACT - 0.5 percent (but the party still gets in because leader David Seymour won the seat of Epsom)
Minor parties including the Māori Party, MANA and The Opportunities Party (TOP) all miss out.
Sixty-one seats are needed to form a New Zealand Government:
- National hold a projected 58 seats
- ACT - 1
- New Zealand First - 9
- Labour - 45
- Green Party - 7
As you can see, neither National and ACT (a combined 59 seats) nor Labour and the Greens (52) can govern alone.
If Winston Peters throws his lot in with National it's obviously a done deal (67 seats even without ACT's help - and Mr Peters isn't a fan of David Seymour).
If 72-year-old Mr Peters decides to leave a lasting legacy and change the Government, a combined NZ First, Labour and Greens coalition would muster the magical number of 61.
So there you have it. It's all on what National and Labour can offer Mr Peters to side with them.
- What Winston Peters wants from the next Government
- Bill English reaches out to Winston Peters
- Winston Peters: You have to wait
A possible role for Mr Peters could be Foreign Minister or even Deputy Prime Minister.
We'll get to see what the wily political veteran is offered or demands in the coming weeks - New Zealand's immediate law making future is indeed in his hands.