Final election results could see minor changes

By Ian Llewellyn

The final results for the 2008 election are to be declared tomorrow afternoon, but there are unlikely to be any major changes in the shape of Parliament.

Over the last fortnight electorate officials have been recounting the 2,103,842 votes cast on election day and counting 208,000 special votes.

Of these around 32,000 are overseas votes with the rest mainly being cast by people outside their electorate on election day.

The final count will not alter National leading a government as Prime Minister John Key has stitched together 70 votes on confidence issues supported by Act, United Future and the Maori Party.

However, if parties gain a greater percentage of the special votes than they did of votes counted on election day there could be changes at the margins in the composition of Parliament.

It is also possible that some of the marginal electorates could change hands.

The provisional results had National on 45.45 per cent support (59 seats), Labour 33.77 per cent support (43), Greens 6.43 per cent (8), ACT 3.72 per cent (5), Maori Party 2.24 per cent (5), Progressive 0.93 per cent (1), United Future 0.89 (1) and New Zealand First 4.21 per cent.

Act, Progressive and United Future all gained entry into Parliament through winning an electorate seat.

The Maori Party gained five electorate seats and since this was a greater proportion than they would have been entitled to under the party vote, there is a Parliament of 122 MPs.

List MP places are allocated through the "St Lague Formula" allocation, a complex equation. The most likely change mathematically is for Labour to get a seat off National by getting around 0.20 per cent more specials than it did votes on election night and National getting 0.20 per cent less.

While mathematically more likely, it is less so politically as it would mean those casting special votes bucking the trend of other voters.

If it did happen this would mean Cam Calder would be out of Parliament and Damien O'Connor would be back.

The Greens have also done well in the past with special votes and a similar performance could result in Kennedy Graham coming in at the expense of Mr Calder again.

If Labour and Greens do much better than their election night result and National much worse then it is possible both Mr O'Connor and Mr Graham could get back in and Mr Calder will be joined by Aaron Gilmore from the National list as a near-miss MP.

Other permutations such as National gaining a seat would need them performing substantially better in specials than they did on election night and other parties much worse.

For New Zealand First to come back from the dead they would have to win much more than 10 per cent of all special votes.

This is unlikely as they only gained support of 4.21 per cent of voters on election night.

It is also possible that provisional electorate results could be overturned.

The most marginal seat on election night was New Plymouth which National's Jonathan Young held by 314 votes over the incumbent Labour's Harry Duynhoven.

The Taranaki Daily News reported today that after the counting of the 2600 specials Mr Young had won the seat by around a 100 votes.

The result will be declared tomorrow.

The next most marginal seat was Waimakariri held by Labour' sitting MP Clayton Cosgrove by 518 votes from National's Kate Wilkinson.

Labour also hold Rimutaka by 625 votes - Chris Hipkins over National's Richard Whiteside, the Maori Party hold Te Tai Tonga by 684 votes - Rahui Katene over Labour's Mahara Okeroa and Labour hold Christchurch Central by 880 votes - Brendon Burns over Nicky Wagner.

It is a possible that these seats could change hands if specials heavily favour the challenger.

However, special votes are usually cast fairly closely in proportion to the election night result and any differences are unlikely to be enough to overturn it.

Once the results are declared any aggrieved parties have until Wednesday November 26 to apply for a judicial recount.

- NZPA

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