New Zealand election ends in stalemate

New Zealand Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf discusses the election and the possibility of an RBNZ revamp

Prime Minister Bill English's National Party won 46 percent of the vote, according to the electoral commission on Sunday.

Speaking to supporters in Auckland, the Prime Minister underscored that "just short of half of all New Zealanders voted National" but said it was clear his party could not form government alone.

New Zealand First look likely to hold the balance of power, but party leader Winston Peters warned it may be some time before he decides who to support.

Under strict election day laws New Zealand does not allow exit polls during voting, which opened at 9am (2100 GMT Friday) and closed at 7pm (0700 GMT).

English had seen his party's standing in the polls plummet since announcing the election in February, and Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party surged.

"I will not be giving any answers tonight or tomorrow until I've had a full chance to talk to our full board of New Zealand First, our supporters and organisations around the country and our MPs".

New Zealand First's 7.5 percent of the vote gives it 9 seats, and the Green Party, with 5.8 percent, has 7. His party has held power for nearly a decade. In the past, the party formed a ruling coalition with National and has been a non-cabinet ally of Labour.

Ms Ardern appeared deflated addressing the party faithful after the vote, saying she had given her all and apologising for not achieving enough.

Winston Peters, the party chief of the New Zealand First Party, however, refused to say which party he would side with. It could only count on the one seat brought to the table by ACT, which has retained Epsom, and would need another partner to govern.

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But a surprise decision by then-Labour leader Andrew Little to stand aside at the start of the campaign made room for Ardern, 37, a three-term member of Parliament.

Labour calls for renegotiating the TPP so that the New Zealand government can maintain the right to restrict foreign nationals from purchasing property.

English said he thinks the televised debates between the two candidates helped swing the momentum his way, as people focused more on the issues and how policy changes would affect them.

English's campaigning went better than many expected, including himself.

Thousands of special votes are also yet to be counted.

Labour's Ardern was vying to become New Zealand's youngest leader since 1856.

Voter engagement was high, with more than 800,000 taking advantage of early voting by Thursday, nearly double the number who had done so at an equivalent point in the last election.

In the past, he has raised concerns about New Zealand becoming an "Asian colony" and warned about migrants taking jobs from locals.

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