24 September, 2017
New Zealand's ruling National Party regained a wide lead over the opposition Labour party in an opinion poll released on Wednesday, the latest twist in a volatile campaign for a general election at the weekend.
If neither English, whose National Party is seeking a record-equalling fourth consecutive term in power, nor Ardern can form a government outright, or with the help of minor support parties, the New Zealand First Party of populist anti-immigration campaigner Winston Peters looms as the potential kingmaker.
Polls have closed in New Zealand's national elections amid what looks like a close race between the conservative prime minister and his liberal challenger.
Veteran New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has been minister under both major parties and has not said which party he would favour as a coalition partner.
Soon after television commentators predicted that James Shaw's speech should be a concession of sorts, and that he should agree to do whatever it took for Labour and New Zealand First to form a Government, James Shaw appeared and did the opposite.
He pointed out that National outpolled Labour and the Greens combined, saying voters had shown a clear preference for the centre-right party.
Despite a hectic and changeable election campaign, the mental strength of National's members had pulled the party through, he said.
"There's still a lot in play at the moment", she said.
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"So many New Zealanders supported us. because through this campaign, we had the opportunity to share our challenging ideas about how to solve New Zealand's most pressing problems".
Ms Ardern said as leader she took responsibility for Labour's 10-point loss.
Votes for the Green Party, which has a working agreement with Labour, reached 5.8 per cent.
"We've run such an extraordinary campaign and we've had such support, it would be very hard for me to be depressed", he said.
English and Ardern were expected to maintain fiscal prudence but will probably differ on monetary policy, trade and immigration.
"Suddenly an alternative Labour-led government (was really) looking viable", Grant Duncan, an expert on New Zealand politics at Massey University, told CNN earlier this month.
It also means that New Zealanders might find out the results quicker because early votes are counted before the polls close at 7 p.m. Saturday. He was seen by many as more of a numbers guy than a schmoozer.
In the past, he has raised concerns about New Zealand becoming an "Asian colony" and warned about migrants taking jobs from locals.