Special votes: A mandate for change or clear backing for National?

Both Labour and National say the special vote results show New Zealanders back them.

The Labour Party says results show the people are backing a change to the status quo, while National says it's clear it finished 10 seats ahead of Labour.

Labour and the Greens gained a seat each in the special votes, taking the left bloc to 54 seats. National lost two seats, going from 58 seats to 56.

"This reinforces the mandate for negotiations to form a stable, durable and progressive Labour-led Government, a Government I would be proud to lead," Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says.

But the official results can only be regarded as a mandate for change if votes for NZ First are included. 

2017 party vote results.
2017 party vote results. Photo credit: Newshub.

Labour and the Greens took a combined 43.2 percent of the party vote, with National on 44.4 percent.

That New Zealanders voted to change the Government was a claim echoed in the Green Party camp, by leader James Shaw. 

"A majority of New Zealanders on election night - a slim majority, admittedly - voted for change, and what today's result demonstrated is that majority for change has now been extended. 

"I believe that increases the case for a change in Government and an environmentally, progressive Government of New Zealand."

Mr Shaw says he believes the most stable form of Government would be a full coalition between Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First.

"I actually think the most stable form of Government with a three-way coalition is a full coalition, in which we're all in the tent."

National, meanwhile, is claiming the votes show New Zealanders back the incumbent Government.

National leader Bill English says it's clear National finished 10 seats ahead of Labour and ahead of the Labour-Green bloc.

"[Voters] signalled very clearly that they wanted National to perform that role, and we will now get on with the job of trying to give effect to their wishes."

Ultimately, whatever the parties claim, the decision on forming a Government rests with NZ First. A Government will be formed with whichever bloc can negotiate support from a majority of the seats in Parliament.