Progress: Peter Dunne Appears To Hold The Hot Seat
With 8% of the vote counted the dark horse of the 2002 election Peter Dunne and his United Future Party appear to be holding the crucial seats that Helen Clark will need to form a Government.
At this stage, admittedly early in the counting, Labour has 48 seats, Jim Anderton’s Progressive Coalition two, and the Greens 7. Together the parties of the left have 57 seats, four short of the golden 61 needed to form a Government.
On its face Helen Clark will have no choice but to negotiate for support from either United Future or New Zealand first, the two centrist parties.
The biggest winners of the night so far are clearly New Zealand First with 10.5% of the vote and 13 seats, and Peter Dunne, who just a week ago was invisible in all the polls.
The biggest losers so far appear to be the Alliance, with a Waitakere win for Laila Harre looking a long way off (albeit with only two booths returning results so far), and the Green Party who look at present to be returning with no more than their present seven MPs.
On the fringes another unpleasant surprise for Helen Clark could be brewing in Wigram. A surprisingly close battle is being fought for Jim Anderton’s stronghold, with Jim Anderton only 97 votes ahead of Labour’s Mike Mora.