Key Points:

The outcome of the 2008 election, with National, Act and United Future able to form a bloc of 65 seats, looks a lot clearer than in previous years when negotiations between parties have taken up to two months.

2005

In 2005, the country waited one month and two days before Labour announced it had the numbers to form a government.

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Early on the Greens had been involved in negotiations but in the end, Labour chose a coalition with Jim Anderton and the support of New Zealand First and United Future instead.

Winston Peters was given the Foreign Minister role and United Future's Peter Dunne became the Revenue Minister - both outside of cabinet.

2002

In 2002, Labour signed a formal coalition agreement with Jim Anderton's Progressive Coalition and formed a government with the support of Peter Dunne's United Future.

The deal came after talks with the Greens broke down. Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said at the time that her party would not support the Government on confidence votes because Labour insisted the moratorium on the release of genetically modified organisms would end the following year.

The 2002 deal took less than two weeks to broker.

1999

In 1999, Labour formed a coalition with the Alliance Party after negotiations took just nine days.

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The biggest sticking point, reported by the Herald at the time, was how many cabinet posts would go to Alliance MPs. In the end they got four.

The two parties also added a "safety-valve" agreement clause to allow the Alliance Party to promote different ideas than the government, despite being on the inside.

1996

In 1996, the country's first MMP election, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters travelled back and forth between Labour and National for eight weeks to sew up a deal.

At the time the Herald reported that a sticking point in negotiations between Mr Peters and Labour was a position in Finance. Labour would not concede the senior cabinet post, while National allowed Mr Peters to play a key role in the first MMP budget as Treasurer.

The agreement between National and NZ First included $5 billion extra spending over the next three years, as well as an "escape clause" which allowed NZ First to terminate the coalition agreement if a disagreement could not be resolved in seven days.