Okay, on the results to date we have an interesting situation, where the Greens may be the big losers if they don’t gain a 7th seat..
Helen does get first dibs to form a Government. Add on Jim Il Song and they have 51 seats – and need an extra 11 votes. Now the Greens have six and Maori Party four so with them you make 61/122. Can not pass a budget.
Also worth noting that the Greens will support Labour no matter what, but Maori Party is going to require some bargaining.
Now you have NZ First and United Future. Both have said they will initially offer support to the largest party (Peters may be backtracking on that though as I think he has said this is effectively a tie). However both have said that they can not support a Government which has the Greens in it. Therefore Helen has to crap on the Greens, to get a majority.
So the most likely Government is a minority Labour/Progressive one with 51/122 seats. Now comes the hard part for them. To pass any legislation they generally will need three out of the other four parties (Maori, Green, United Future and NZ First) to vote for it – now getting five parties in total to all agree on a bill will be damn difficult.
The other thing to look out for, if they do form a Government, is select committees. A Labour-led Government may get bills changed against their will at select committee level often.
Now can National form a Government? They have 49 seats and with ACT are a solid bloc of 51 – the same as Labour/Progressive. If NZ First and United Future come on board (and I suspect both are very nervous about propping up a third term Labour Government which has to pander to both the Greens and the Maori Party) you have 61 seats. One short of a majority.
However there is the Maori Party. Now I quipped last night that if they allow National to abolish the Maori seats, then National will allow them to keep powhiris :-), but more seriously it is hard to see that agreement could be reached on the key areas of Maori/Treaty policy. There is much commonality in other areas, but this one is a show-stopper. However in 1996 I never thought Winston would go with National, so nothing is impossible – and Tariana does not at all like Helen and will remember the last cab off the rank put-down, which is different to Don Brash who was always careful just to say that the policies seem incompatible.
Could National and Maori Party do an agree to disagree? National would not be able to abolish the Maori Seats because simply most of Parliament won’t vote for it. So could they say well status quo rules, because we don’t have a majority for these changes, but we will work with Maori Party to further common goals in other areas?
I don’t regard it as at all a likely option, but I suspect the prospect will be kept alive for a while, to maximise negotiating positions.
The final note is to stress again that specials may change things. If the Greens pick up a seat then they can join the Government in coalition. If the Maori Party pick up a seat off Labour (but due to overhang won’t gain a seat, Labour just loses one) then the CR could form a 61/121 narrow majority.
I doubt anyone will announce a Government before specials are counted.