Election 2017: English delivers for National — but not over the line yet

Bill English on-stage at Sky City: "In the next few days, we will be holding talks with NZ First and finding common ground"

Rob Hosking's take on the Election 2017 provisional result, and what's likely to happen next

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Should National circumvent Peters and do a deal with the Greens?

Yes
59%
No
41%
Total votes: 658

Others: 4.3%. 61 seats needed to govern. Source: ElectionResults.org.nz. (2014: Nat 47.3%, Lab 27.5%, Green 11.1%, NZF 6.6%)

UPDATE 7am Sunday: With 100% of standard votes counted, National is in the box seat to form a government but NZ First still holds the key.

National has 46.0% of the vote, or 58 seats, Labour 35.8%, or 45 seats: New Zealand First on 7.5% or nine seats and the Green Party on 5.9% with seven seats while ACT has one MP by dint of leader David Seymour holding Epsom.

There are still 380,000 special votes to count. Typically, the centre-left gains on specials. In 2014 (with 329,000 specials), National lost one seat and the Greens gained one after the final count.

The Electoral Commission will finalise the vote count, including specials, on October 7.

The picture points to a finely balanced parliament, especially with the Maori Party gone from Parliament and United Future consigned to history.

If it falls short of a majority, the party with the largest share of the vote has no special rights under MMP (read NBR's primer on the rules of negotiation engagement here). If he is of a mind, NZ First leader Winston Peters, who sits in the familiar position of kingmaker, could form a government in coalition with Labour and the Greens. 

Mr Peters, wasn’t giving anything away when he spoke to media just after 10pm last night.

"As things stand I believe we do have the balance of political responsibility and we are not going to rush out and make decisions … In fact, I won't be giving any answers tonight or tomorrow until I’ve had a full chance to talk to the board of NZ First."

Incumbent Prime Minister Bill English came on stage at National’s headquarters with his arms raised aloft.

"The voters have spoken and we have the responsibility of working to build strong and stable government," he said.

Mr English says National demonstrated it “has the energy and the drive to take New Zealand forward."

However, clearly neither Labour nor National can form a government without a support partner.

Mr English says he will begin discussions with Mr Peters in the coming days about forming a coalition.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern told media "We hoped for better" as she climbed into a van to travel to Aotea Centre, where her party's faithful had gathered.

Asked if she had talked to Mr Peters, she said, "There will be no conversations for a while yet."

NBR political editor Rob Hosking says the mood at National Party headquarters is "a bit like what All Black coaches say before a test – 'cautiously optimistic'." 

"While they don't quite think they've won, they certainly don't think they've lost."

Behind the scenes at National's election night party at Sky City in Auckland.

Ms Ardern says she called Bill English to acknowledge National took the majority of votes but she hasn't called Mr Peters yet.

She remained upbeat about Labour's campaign.

“The late great Colin Meads once said 'if you come off the field feeling you haven’t done enough, then you have let the team down' … I’ve come off the field knowing we gave it our all.

‘We did not get the most votes tonight and I have called Bill and acknowledged that and the work he has put in. The final outcome of tonight’s election won’t be decided by us – it will be decided by MMP.’’

‘’I simply cannot predict at this point what decisions other leaders will make but I can tell you what we will do and what it will carry with me and any conversations with me.

‘’We will keep listening and earning the trust and faith of New Zealand. As Labour leader I can assure you we will remain relentlessly positive.”

Her final line was ‘’let’s keep doing this’’

Asked if Labour should have done anything differently, frontbencher David Parker said, “When Jacinda took over, she said we would run the campaign of our lives and we have used every last drop of gas in the tank.”  

Behind the scenes at Labour's election night party in Auckland.

Greens hanging in there
At Green Party headquarters at St Matthews in Auckland City, there are about 300 people, NBR reporter Victoria Young says.

Campaign manager Sarah Helm addressed the crowd to lots of cheers as Chloe Swarbrick arrived. Leader James Shaw is expected to arrive at 10pm.

Apparently, the hummus dip has mostly gone.

Green MP Julie Anne Genter: "I'm glad we are above the threshold (to be in government), but disappointed National is doing well because we want to see a change in the government.”

She's confident that voters who advance-enrolled and voted at the same time, who will be counted as special votes, will favour Labour-Greens

Behind the scenes with the Greens at St Matthews in the City, Auckland.

Morgan tips National
Speaking to party faithful at the Meow bar in Wellington, Gareth Morgan says TOP has "awoken the young people." 

He reinforced the idea that the party was build upon a policy-first approach. 

"The biggest challenge we had was trying to change the tax system," he says.

He says he is trying to "appeal to [voters] humanity" when it comes to issues such as housing. 

In terms of convincing the rest of the country, he says there might be some work to do.

TOP gained just over 2.1% party vote.

Dr Morgan also effectively conceded to National, saying they're "probably going to win, let's be honest." 

He had previously said he does not know what the next step is for the party but says he has no regrets.

Asked what he would have done differently he says "nothing." 

Earlier
Polls have closed and counting has begun for Election 2017. 

The Electoral Commission's official timetable is:

  • by 8:30pm all advance vote results
  • by 10:00pm results from 50% of voting places
  • by 11:30pm results from 100% of voting places

Like all media, NBR will be drawing its results from the commission's results website, electionresults.org.nz, the official home of the overall total and electorate-by-electorate counts.

A quick early indication, then probably a multi-day wait
New Zealand could know as much as it's ever going to know tonight earlier than 8.30pm. Counting of this year's advance votes began at 9am.

Early voting was heavy with just under 1.2 million or 38% of registered voters casting a ballot by the end of Friday, compared with 717,000 in 2014.

The advance votes in 2014 were close to the final result.

However, if the provisional result this evening and horse-trading between parties is required as National and Labour vie for the affection of Winston Peters (a probable scenario, if polls are to be believed) it's likely NZ First, the Greens and others will want to wait until special votes are counted before they begin talks.

The counting of special votes will begin on Sunday.

The commission has up to 10 days to count specials, of which there were 329,000 in 2014, and to cross-check and confirm regular votes.

Historically, special votes have changed the provision result for each party by 0.5 to 1%, so they could well be crucial in a tight race.

The final result will be declared in 14 days' time.

What's needed to win
Allowing for wasted votes for parties that did not make the 5% threshold, National or Labour would need a minimum 47% of the vote to gain 61 MPs, the bare minimum to govern alone, UMR principal Stephen Mills said earlier.

In the event that the Greens or National crash below 5%, National could probably govern alone with just 46% of the vote.

History and poll averages suggest neither major party will get enough votes to govern alone.

Most votes? Means nothing if you're short of a majority
The final poll had the combined Labour-Greens vote at 44.4%, barely a point behind National (45.8%).

If the cards do fall like that tonight, then NZ First will be kingmaker.

That will mean negotiations between the parties as they jockey to assemble the support of 61 MPs (the bare-minimum needed for a majority).

Otago University law professor Andrew Geddis points out that the party with the most votes does not get the first crack at forming a coalition.

No one does.

Parties can talk to each other in any order they like, or conduct talks with multiple partners at the same time.

And that it's quite possible under the rules of MMP for the party with the most votes (if it's short of a majority) to miss out on governing if a mix of other parties can get to the magic 61. 

Lastly, Mr Geddis points out that there is no time-limit on MMP talks. If Mr Peters wants to drag the negotiation process out for a couple of months, that's his prerogative. 

Enrolment numbers slightly down
The Electoral Commission's final enrolment figures, to September 19, show 91.48% of eligible adults enrolled vs 92.6% by Election Day 2014.

However, because advance voters could enrol and vote at the same time (pushing them into the special vote category) New Zealand won't know the final participation figure until special votes are counted.

The figures to September 19 showed young people enrolled in lower numbers than 2014. The figure for 18-24-year-olds was 68.74% compared to 76.5% in 2014 while 25-29-year-olds also lagged.

That could be a negative for Labour and the Greens, who draw disproportionately high support from the under-30s.

Any last-minute youth surge won't be apparent until after special votes are counted.


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54 Comments & Questions

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It is obvious National will have the largest % of the vote for the major parties

Up to Winston which is a 50/50 call
Bill English has a bad track record stiffing Winston and National has targeted Northland to get rid of Winston from that electorate seat which they may succeed in doing

Could go either way

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Now English could raise his hands (as in victory) is behind me. It speaks of arrogance and self importance if nothing else for me.

Democracy is the victory today, and the start of the end of this neo liberal ideology introduced by a failed pig farmer and practised by the smiling assassin bankster; both sole interest has been to privatise profit and socialise the byproducts.

The best think Winston could do for democracy and NZ First is sit on the cross benchers, and vote and advocate for more balance to society. What we do know is NZ needs change, and I'm not confident Labour has their own house in order to do the job. Who knows Winston may be the steady hand that they need.

If you ask me, the economy is showing early signs of deterioration and the tax bribes to the wealthy may have to be unwound for the next government dont want to borrow more to support them.

Either way, English raising his hands at the start only speaks of self entitlement and to indicate they should be part of the next government when MMP doesnt necessarily support this, reinforces this view point.

People voted for change.

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Excuse me, 63% did not vote labour. 53% did not vote Nats 92% did not vote NZ First.
You need to think about what Mr English achieved, and give credit where it has been fairly earned??
Nats were going for a fourth term.
Mr English had every right to raise his hands. A personal and political victory that will ensure his place in NZ political history. Politically he is a "Living Legend".

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Of the people who voted, Labour, Greens & TOP (representing the new left) got 43%. Add in NZ First, who got 8% and the Left have the numbers. And if you look at NZ First policies, they are more aligned with Labour than National.

Time to bring in digital voting, to encourage more youth to vote, rather than the laws and economics being dictated by those that wont be around to see the consequences of their short term self interest.

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No they didn't actually. They voted largely for the status quo with some minor adjustments. If they had really voted for change, the vote totals for Labour and National would be reversed. Labour is now back to where it was under David Shearer, hardly a ringing endorsement for change. And don't even get me started on the collapse in the vote for NZF and the Greens. I know it's hard for you old socialists to accept that, but it is what it is. The people have spoken.

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Now that National has devoured their support parties (excluding Zombie ACT) the opposition parties won not National. It is to be seen if they can work together to support the change all campaigned on. Any Oppositio party embracing National will be next elections Maori Party. Dead.

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No old socialist here.

Someone who grew up in a state house, that has been mildly successful through self endevaour, who is currently invested time in my own children but hasnt forgotten where he's come from. Probably quite the opposite to you.

You obviously have no understanding of now MMP works, or the scenario's that can play out. You'll find alot of what Labour & NZ First stand for are the same, while the Greens bring a smaller subset of this.

National's negative and probably illegal politics brought about the demise of the succession plan Labour had as Leader after the Clark admiinistration; i.e Phil Goff. Amercian style politics courtesy of bankster Jonkey. Its taken them close to 8 years to find a replacement in Jacinda.

If National become the minority government, they wont get anything through unless it improves social outcomes. They will be a lame duck. Whereas, Labour has a chance to get some things that make a difference socially and environmentally. Nationals continued governance would onlybenefit the current MP's personally, but it sounds like this is what you stand for anyway.

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You accuse National of American style politics?

I don't agree with you at all, I personally think it's the opposite. Labour ran a great campaign, but they failed to provide any detail on any policies. Talk all you want about change and how the current government haven't done enough but when you can't say what should be done, you are American politics.

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Your political hatreds and bitterness are so profound I don't think you'll ever see anything clearly. And if you and others think that you can characterise NZF as a party of the Left then you are delusional.

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Careful there Mr Anonymous, reading your post suggests you believe Mr Peters is "delusional"!!
You are correct of course, BUT Mr Peters will not like you saying it.

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And we have found one of the legalise cannabis voters!

People voting for change? For a UN mandate with puppet-Marxist-master Klark having another crack at taxing and suppressing society?

English's triumph is a expression from the people that, yet again, people do not want Socialism. It doesn't work. It is wrong and evil. The worst affected being those that blindly wish for it.

Let's do this? Ask anyone in Labour...they have no clue what "this" refers to...

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No one thought National could do a deal with the Maori Party but they did.

Im very interested in what potential Mr Peters has from some sort of 'neither' position.

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Two questions occupied my mind during milking this morning.
I wondered what "statemanship" would mean in this situation?
What would a true statesman do?

And then I wondered about the list of non-peurile reasons why a statesman , or even the rest of the elected members of the parliament (yeah right), would not as a matter of course give confidence and supply to the largest party in the parliament.
Then let the parliament pass the laws. If proportionality is not to be a sham, then at some stage we must have the maturity to move to this situation .

Let's do this !!
:-)

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Being a farmer, I suppose what was going through your mind was, please not Labour, please not Labour.

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You might be surprised to hear that I have been an "organic" farmer for 40 years or so , and that my overriding thought was closer to "anyone but the(so-called) Greens".
I am very pleased with the (proposed) membership of the House. Let the governement and any forthcoming legislation reflect that proportionality.
We won't , as a country , go anywhere fast, under this MMP system but we are less likely to go backwards and forwards getting nowhere.

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Same. I can't for the life of me understand why anybody would vote for the Greens. The wasted vote.

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Oops . Spelling .
Non -puerile reasons why parliament would not, as a matter of course, give confidence and supply to the largest party in parliament.

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My gut feeling is Nats will do the deal. No one picked they could pull off a deal with Maori Party but they did.
If it was in the bag then there would be grins somewhere but no one is grinning at 9pm.

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"Apparently the hummus dip has mostly gone"
Don't fret, sachets of Maggi Dipping Sauce are being ripped open; a placebo is being whipped up as I type. Be cool.

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Goody

So National will do nothing for another 3 years

My pick Winston will go with Labour and the Greens will support them on confidence and supply and hold portfolios outside Cabinet. People have collectively voted for change not for the same old same old

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The people have not voted for change but they will get it. Bill English will lead a Government of change with NZ First support.

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***ALERT*** You have used the words "Bill English" and "Change" in the same sentence. Would you like to auto-correct to "Bill English" and "Status Quo" instead?

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Gareth Morgan ends up sounding and looking like a sore loser and cry baby ... So those of you who didn't vote for him , you are "selfish".

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Gareth should just shut up and go away. The people have spoken and he and TOP have no credibility. And I thought his comment that he lost because we are all a bunch of selfish, self-serving so and so's not good enough for his pearls of wisdom was beneath contempt, and unbecoming of somebody who wants to hold high political office in this country. No, Gareth, YOU lost because your policies are stupid.

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Maybe Gareth has achieved what he set out to do, just like the Bob Jones Party.

National no longer can do as they wish; i.e. privatise the profits and socialise the losses. Their lapdogs are no more, and Peter Dunne; ex Labour Party, should be ashamed of himself. His bow tie said it all.

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He's kinda right though. Kiwis are so passively aggressive and selfish. His policies are not stupid they are different. So many policy's we currently have are absurd and only palatable due to their traditional nature. English is painfully ignorant... or arrogant, perhaps both.

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He's dead right. How many people vote for purely selfish reasons? A lot. The two main parties are as guilty as sin for cow-towing to them, with all the big spending promises. Now they will suck up to Peters to hold on to their jobs for the next three years.

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Close to 50,000 people voted for Morgan despite only campaigning for 10 months, and despite the lack of "air time". I'd say that's a monumental effort.

As for the outcome of the party vote in general, those who have benefited the most from rampant house price inflation have come out in droves to continue to exclude those who haven't.

They've said "Yes" to keeping their paper wealth intact and "No" to egalitarianism. "Yes" to relying on the housing market and immigration to propping up the economy and "No" to investing in productivity and retaining our sovereignty.

Sad, sad times ahead.

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Great comments. Should the overseas investors run riot in the next
3 years under national it will be very bad for New Zealanders trying to find a home they can afford. National will not solve the housing crisis as it requires a drop in current prices.

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A possible Labour, Greens, NZ First govt.... God what would that be like?

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Better than Nats/NZF!

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Possible, but less likely than the second coming. Peters would be punished mercilessly if he supported a minority party ten points behind the leading party; and we all know he's not attracted by baubles.

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A nightmare. If that happens, expect to see the country back at the polls in 18 months. Jacinda and Kelvin Davis do not have the depth of experience to control or corral a wily and experienced political operative like Winston. They have never been in Government or in Cabinet for goodness sake. And the Greens and NZF around the Cabinet table....lol. Really?? You think that's going to work?? One of the Green's bottom lines is a CGT. Winston said there will be no CGT under NZF. The Greens and Labour want a water tax. Winston, there will be no water tax under NZF, and so it goes on.

But the biggest danger for this multiheaded hydra monster is that National could turn a couple of NZF MPs, it would only take a few, and with those 2-3 votes, Acts and NAtional, it'll be all over, Rover.

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Yes, I must admit that it would be a little bit like being part of a family where nobody gets on with each other, and can barely stand to be in each others presence for any longer than five minutes.
It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.
No doubt old Winston will be loving it. I can't wait to see his "Second coming of Christ" act, that he will be putting on for the cameras.
It should be classic stuff.

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Is WP still sharp enough to perform as the wily old fox of old? I'm not convinced. He was barely coherent for much of the campaign.

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Yes he does seem to be showing his age these days. I'd say he's getting towards the end of it now.

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The boys are back and prices look good !!!

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Clearly 7% of the country are on another planet. A vote for Winston is wasted as he has the least talented, worst performing bunch of coat-tailers behind him. And Winston is still all about the baubles, even more on his self-acknowledged last run.

If Winston popped his clogs tomorrow, who are we left with? Ron Mark. that tell you everything.

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Roll on the 7th October. Winston holds the 'trump' cards in his hands and don't hedge your bets on the 'Specials' last election in 2014 saw the ratio go 40 to National 28 to Labour and 15 to the Greens.
The Maori Party gone to Labour's screwing of it and robbing Maoridom of strong voice especially if Labour rests in opposition.
My pick after special votes. 57 seats to National with New Zealand First making the 'kingly' balance up to 66 seats.
Labour may pick up one or two seats with 47 from the youth count.
National govern with NZF confidence and supply.
vote in support.

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Winston for PM baby.

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Something's seriously awry here: WTF do we allow a party who's corralled 7% of the electorate, determine the makeup of the Government?

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the inherent stupidity of MMP.

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Make a deal with the real estate cough I meant national. Because he is gutless and tactical . He should actually do something useful - with labour who need him far more than he needs them. Use all your leverage and cut immigration and house prices .

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As a special voter in the absolute "NEED for change" camp, I KNOW there are many many more like me. I have high hopes and expectation that the special votes will tell the true story of where our NZ hearts are. The right wing media that bombards us is hugely disappointing and unfortunately I believe it DOES have an effect on election outcomes. I hope and trust that Mr Peters remains true to his word and follows up with the alliance that allows the best chance to achieve goals that matter to the people.

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Not sure about your "right wing media" comment, but you might be right about which way the special votes swing. I'm certain there's a lot a kiwis living overseas who, for the past few years, will have been seeing house price inflation as a barrier to returning home, thus voting against the party that's allowed prices to escalate out of control for 3 consecutive terms in power.

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In spite of many demonstrations to the contrary, Winston is actually capable of being sensible occasionally. I think on this occasion he has little choice than to go for a stable relationship with National. Make him deputy PM, plus the promise of a knighthood, appoint him Minister of tiddlywinks or something and a few other baubles and he'll be in boots and all and sit there doing next to nothing till he retires. That way he will be able to avoid the stench of rotting greens which he is particularly sensitive to. .

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Winston Peters will henceforth be known as, 'Blue Dragon Slayer'

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66% voted.What a joke.

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Congratulations to the National Party: 46% is a sound result for a fourth term (potential) Government. Thankfully the country has a chance to continue to grow, whilst addressing social issues that have come to the fore. National has two choices: Winston or the Greens (if the Greens were smart, why wouldn't they want to be in Government in some form.) But Chris Keall is right: National-NZ First is the most likely.

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The Greens have most likely taken note of what happens to a minor party that cosies up to a major party that doesn't share it's values and are thinking "no thanks, National".

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Dump Paula Bennett and Maggie Berry. Use the 2bn on the rest of the country and leave Auckland to the new arrivals.

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They need to sort this MMP out, I agree FPP was too much in favour of the big parties, and made it very hard for small parties to stick around but MMP creates too much power for parties delivering only 5% - 10% of the countries vote.

Under FPP with 120 seats, National would have had approximately 69 seats a very strong majority, Labour 50, and Act 1 (probably none in the real world).

If we went 1/2 way between FPP and MMP and had 120 MP's made up of 60 electorate seats, and 60 list seats with threshold being 1.667%, then National would have 62 (enough to govern and rightfully so), Labour 47, NZ First 5, Greens 4, TOP 1, and Act possibly 1.

This gives minority parties a voice (maybe even attract a few more votes), but not the scary role we have NZ First in deciding if Labour or National will run the country. At 62, it wouldn't hurt for National to still get some extra supporters on board.

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