The results so far suggest that Winston Peters' New Zealand First party will be able to form a government with National with a strong majority - or a government with Labour (supported by the Greens) with a thin majority.

Things could change by a couple of seats by the end of the night, or by the end of the two-week period for specials to be counted.

But at this stage, Peters resumes the position he has held in most polls this term - kingmaker, albeit with the possible humiliation of losing his own Northland electorate.

It will only take a few seats either way for an Labour-led alternative to a National-NZ First government to be completely viable or completely unrealistic.


With just about 40 per cent of the vote to be counted the two alternatives are a 67-seat National New Zealand First Government (with 61 needed for a majority) or a 62 seat Government.

The Maori Party being wiped out altogether or surviving may have an impact on the final result but there is no guarantee it would side with National, as it has for the past three terms.

In fact the co-leadership appears split on whether it should support National or Labour.

The Green Party, as well, has choices, in theory at least.

Its memorandum of understanding with the Labour Party to cooperate to get rid of the National Government, expires today.

There is nothing stopping it from approaching National or vice versa, as an alternative to a National-New Zealand's First Government, despite the party ruling out the possibility all year.

However the very prospect - while being encouraged by commentators to keep New Zealand First out of Government - would create a civil war within the Green Party.

Metiria Turei may be gone from the Green co-leadership but there are still as many ultra-left devotees within the party to fight the prospect of coalition.

This election is proof again that a small change in a vote can have a massive effect on the outcome.