Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

New Zealand held in suspense as coalition talks continue

Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First Party, walks with officials to a meeting in Wellington, New Zealand, on Oct. 8, 2017.

STAFF/REUTERS

New Zealanders will likely need to wait several more days to find out who will form the new government in the South Pacific island nation, the small nationalist party holding the balance of power said on Thursday.

The New Zealand First Party was holding a fifth day of talks with both the ruling National and the opposition Labour Party to form a coalition government, almost three weeks after an inconclusive general election.

Prime Minister Bill English's ruling National Party won 56 seats in the Sept. 23 election, while a Labour-Green bloc have 54 seats, leaving both needing New Zealand First's nine seats to meet the 61 seats needed for a majority in parliament.

Story continues below advertisement

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said that he was "pretty confident" that those talks with the main parties would conclude on Thursday evening, but said the NZ First board would not meet to discuss its options until the weekend at the earliest.

"It depends upon the logistical availability of the board which will be Saturday, Sunday or Monday," Peters told reporters.

When asked which party he was leaning towards, Peters told reporters later in the day that he had a "totally open mind."

"I can honestly tell you I wouldn't take a guess of what anyone is currently thinking," Peters said at Parliament, referring to his party's caucus and board members.

The political limbo has pushed the New Zealand dollar, the world's 11th most traded currency, down by around 3.3 per cent since the vote. The Kiwi was trading at $0.7103 mid-afternoon on Thursday after hitting a four-month low earlier this week.

Two recent independent surveys have suggested the uncertainty is curbing business sentiment, although official data released on Thursday indicated that consumer confidence remained robust.

There are also concerns that a government including the nationalist NZ First would lead to more interventionist economic policies. Peters fuelled those fears earlier this week when he said that exporters should welcome the recent fall in the local currency.

Story continues below advertisement

NZ First also wants to restrict foreign investment, curb immigration and renegotiate certain trade deals.

Strong immigration has been blamed for the country's hot housing market and unaffordable prices, with industry data showing the number of properties sold in September was the lowest for that month for six years.

Peters lost his own seat in the election, but remains eligible for a ministerial post as leader of NZ First.

He said talks so far had focused on policy, with no discussions yet on ministerial portfolios or offices.

Japan's Abe announces snap election amid worries over North Korea (Reuters)
Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.