Election 2023: How the bombshell by-election could have significant impact on next Parliament

The date for the Port Waikato by-election has been set following the death of the ACT Party's candidate Neil Christensen.  

It'll be held on Saturday, November 25, and has been agreed upon by all parties. But the implications of it has exposed the complexities of electoral law.  

A nostalgic visit to the Kapiti Coast saw Chris Hipkins outside his old Countdown and counting down to what could be his last days as Prime Minster.

There were plenty of dogged supporters and plenty of dogs. 

But he's also dealing with an unfortunate constitutional curveball confirming the date of the Port Waikato by-election as November 25. 

It's been prompted by the death of ACT's Port Waikato candidate Neil Christensen.

"To be respectful to Neil, it's the right thing to do," ACT leader David Seymour said. 

The law states that on the death of a candidate before election day, the vote to choose the local MP is cancelled and only the party vote is counted. 

"It is too late to change that now, you can't change the laws in the middle of an election," said constitutional lawyer Graeme Edgeler.

He says the quirk is a hangover from First Past the Post and has been calling for it to be changed for a decade.

"We went for a highly proportional system. This is going to have a slight wrinkle in exactly how proportional our Parliament will be for the next term, but it is never perfectly proportional."

The incumbent is National's Andrew Bayly, who's also number 16 on the party list - essentially guaranteed to get in as a list MP.  

But he'll then contest the by-election and likely win it, meaning he'll switch from a List MP to an electorate MP, prompting the next candidate on National's list to make it into Parliament, giving them an extra MP in the process.  

It makes the mountain Labour has to climb even bigger - but Hipkins doesn't necessarily agree.  

But the impending squabble in the Port Waikato by-election though is not worrying Hipkins.

"It could actually give us an extra seat depending on who the last party is to get a List member," he said. 

National leader Christopher Luxon said he would "deal with the by-election on the other side of this general election".

Both taking it one election at a time as they race to the finish line on Saturday.