Duncan Garner: Welcome to your election hangover

OPINION: Sunday, bloody Sunday.

And you better believe the news today, because it's true.

Ninety-three percent of voters last night did not pick Winston Peters, but the 7 percent who did gave him enormous power.

That small group of voters has given Peters the cards to either choose coalition chaos and confusion, or coalition coherence and calm.

Winston Peters is a man who can deliver both. He can be responsible and serious, but you must treat him with respect.

If you don't, it's over.

This next term is likely to be his legacy, so now more than ever, there's more pressure for him to get this right.

Did New Zealanders overwhelmingly vote for change last night? No, but they don't want this Government in its current state and National must hear that.

And if Peters knows what he's about to do next, he's got an awfully odd way of showing it.

His shambolic media conference this morning evoked memories of the garbled games of 1996.

He toyed with media, threatened to throw Newshub's Lloyd Burr in the drink, and stumbled and laughed his way through minutes of utter hell.

I couldn't stop shaking my head.

I've been in two decades of these media stand-ups. He tells you nothing … he plays the clown, while the rest of us are played like fools, voters included.

I can hear the country's collective sigh.

Peters is playing for time and this morning, he's given the one-fingered salute to the two old parties, and those voters in NZ who want a quick, decisive and stable Government formed.

He might as well have said: "No-one won, I'm the man, now eat that."

And he kind of did.

This result gives enormous power to a very small tail that's about to wag a big dog.

It takes me back to the chaos and utter confusion of 1996, when Peters also held all the cards.

Except it's different.

This time, he's not as big or as powerful, and hopefully we have all - media included - learned our lessons.

Peters has genuine options.

I think the centre-left block will pick up another seat on special votes and National may drop back one.

But Peters really has only two options - put National back into office and change their direction slightly, or crown Jacinda Ardern as PM in a three-way centre-left coalition.

Both are live options, but Peters and the Greens make more-than-odd bedfellows. He's mocked them for years.

They have been his little playthings and he has mocked them, ridiculed them and laughed in their faces. Charming, I know.

The stuff of a credible coalition? Hardly.

But maybe Peters will shut them out of Cabinet in a Labour-led minority Government. The Greens would have to go along with it - they don't have options - but I struggle to see this happening at all.

It's National with the upper hand, a stunning result for Bill English.

Ardern looked slightly defeated last night, despite her excellent campaign. She did so well.

She's the future, she's empathetic … she will be Prime Minister, if not now, then next time.

Winston Peters could do anything.

He's unpredictable and volatile, and Labour and the Greens are hoping he's now politically versatile.

Welcome to your Sunday hangover - it'll last for weeks, as the final votes are counted and Wily Winston walks between the parties.

What does he want? When? What policy gains? Who knows?

There are two immediate winners in this circle of mess - uncertainty and Winston - and here's your final bit of evidence.

Winston Peters billboards this election asked voters the question: "Had enough?"

Of what? Of who?

MMP? National? Immigration? Congestion? What?

Come on, tell us, Winston. What do you mean?

All in good time, New Zealand.

Duncan Garner is the host of The AM Show, weekdays at 6am on Three and RadioLIVE.

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