Election: Fears NZers won't know who's leading country until Christmas - why this expert isn't worried

As the final day to cast a vote in this year's election nears, there are fears Kiwis won't know who is in charge of the country until Christmas.

There have been murmurs of a potential hung Parliament on the cards, but one law expert is relaxed New Zealand will have its government by December 21.

Recent polls have suggested neither Labour nor National have enough seats to form a government with their usual coalition partners. It puts New Zealand First in a kingmaker position with the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll putting Winston Peters' party at 6.8 percent.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins has ruled out working with NZ First, while National reluctantly said they will pick up the phone to Peters if they need to. But ACT leader David Seymour, National's likely coalition partner, said he does not want to work with New Zealand First.

Earlier this week, National's campaign chair Chris Bishop dropped a bomb – raising the prospect of a second election.

"That chance is a real one and growing," Bishop told the NZ Herald.

"The second scenario is when there is essentially a hung Parliament and NZ First is in the middle, but it is just impossible to do a deal between National, Act and NZ First. That is a very real and growing possibility and that would necessitate, essentially, a second election."

If no parties can form a majority and have the support to win a confidence vote, then another election would be needed. However, parties could engage in more creative arrangements with smaller parties to get across the line, but this could take time.

However, constitutional law expert and barrister Mai Chen told AM she is feeling "extremely calm" because we have a "sound" constitutional system that caters for all of these issues.

She said the parties have until December 21 to form a government.

Mai Chen.
Mai Chen. Photo credit: AM

On average, Chen said it generally takes five weeks for a government to be established, but once it took nine weeks and another time it was done in two weeks.

She explained if there is no clear result on election night there would be a caretaker government – so Hipkins would continue with his current Government.

"They need to keep the ship of state on course, it can't be off course. They can't make any major decisions. If there's a crisis they should consult all sides.

"But the reality is that [determining whether a coalition of parties has the confidence of Parliament and should be sworn in as the new Government] is the role of the Governor General," Chen told AM co-host Ryan Bridge.

If neither party gets an outright majority, then it is for the politicians to try and form a coalition so they do have the confidence of the majority of Parliament. They would then go to the Governor General of NZ Dame Cindy Kiro with that evidence. She will determine where the confidence of the House lies and whether a government can be appointed and the Prime Minister.

"She is the referee or the umpire, neutral when the constitutional chips are down," Chen said.

Chen said there are all sorts of possibilities come this election but has one important point for politicians.

"If politicians think that we're going to another election, they should think very hard about why we've never been in this situation," Chen said.

"I don't think any elector will thank them, but I think they will punish them."