Pre-coalition talks get underway

  • 05/10/2017
James Shaw, Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters and Bill English.
James Shaw, Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters and Bill English. Photo credit: Newshub.

Discussions are about to start that will set the stage for coalition negotiations next week.

NZ First, which holds the balance of power, will first talk to National on Thursday morning followed by Labour in the afternoon.

They'll be discussing the framework for formal negotiations which will start after special votes have been counted and results released on Saturday.

Prime Minister Bill English is expected to lead National's team while Jacinda Ardern and her deputy Kelvin Davis head up Labour's.

The venue hasn't been announced but the discussions are expected to be held in Parliament.

When the formal negotiations begin they'll by vying for NZ First's support to form a coalition government.

Mr English can offer a tidy two party coalition while Ms Ardern needs NZ First and the Greens for a majority.

Election night results gave National 58 seats, Labour 45, NZ First nine and the Greens seven. A majority in parliament is 61, so the opposition parties would only just make it while a National/NZ First coalition would have 67 - a stable majority.

Labour and the Greens are hoping the 384,000 special votes will give them an additional one or two seats, which National would lose.

Specials historically favour the left - in 2014 the Greens won an extra seat and National lost one.

Ms Ardern has conceded it would be difficult to form a Government with 61 seats.

"You would want a more comfortable majority," she said.

Thursday's meetings were arranged after Mr English and Ms Ardern called Mr Peters on Monday.

They were concerned his self-imposed deadline for announcing a decision, October 12, leaves just a few days for negotiations to be concluded.

After holding a caucus meeting on Wednesday to work out NZ First's negotiating position, Mr Peters said he still believed he could meet the deadline.