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National drops 2 seats on NZ final results, and will need NZ First to form government

The final results of the October 14 New Zealand election have been released.

The National Party has won a total of 48 seats (down two from the preliminary election night results), Labour has won 34 (remaining steady), the Green Party has won 15 (up one), ACT has won 11 (steady), NZ First has won eight (steady) and te Pāti Māori/the Māori party has won six seats (up two).

These results mean National will need both ACT and NZ First to secure a ruling majority.

The parliamentary overhang

Based on the preliminary results, te Pāti Māori captured four electorate seats, producing a one-seat overhang. This happens when a party wins more electorate seats than it would be entitled to with its party vote. On election night, te Pāti Māori was entitled to just three seats given its small share of the overall party vote.

But the final vote count gave te Pāti Māori two more seats after the party overturned narrow Labour leads in two Māori electorates (one by just four votes). Te Pāti Māori’s party vote also increased to 3.1%, entitling it to a fourth seat. This means there is a two-seat parliamentary overhang.

These results mean the size of parliament will be 122 seats, up from the normal 120. It will take 62 seats for a majority.

Even if National wins the November 25 by-election for Port Waikato, as is expected, National and ACT combined will have 60 of the now 123 seats, two short of a majority.

Comparison with 2020 election

This election marked a big swing from the 2020 results. National has increased its number of MPs by 15, while Labour has lost 31. The Greens gained five MPs, ACT gained one and NZ First gained eight – returning to parliament after falling below the 5% threshold in 2020. Te Pāti Māori has four additional MPs.

There was also a big shift in the party vote. National won 38.1% of the party vote (up 12.5%), Labour won 26.9% (down 23.1%), the Greens won 11.6% (up 3.7%), ACT won 8.6% (up 1.1%), NZ First won 6.1% (up 3.5%) and te Pāti Māori won 3.1% (up 1.9%).

In my previous analyses I have grouped National and ACT as right-wing parties, while Labour, the Greens and te Pāti Māori are left-wing parties. I have not counted NZ First with either bloc. It supported the Labour government in 2017, and has sided with both major parties in the past.

By this formulation, the right coalition defeated the left by 5.1% in this election, a reversal of a 25.9% win for the left in 2020.

Polls understated right

The polls ahead of the election consistently underestimated the popularity of the right-wing parties.

The first graph below shows all polls since March.

Right coalition minus left coalition support in NZ polls since March 2023. This is calculated as National plus ACT (right) minus all of Labour, Greens and Māori (left).

The second graph shows the polls since late August, when there was a clear trend back to the left.

New Zealand polls since late August.

The most accurate polls were the Talbot Mills poll, the Curia poll for the Taxpayers’ Union and the Verian/Kantar poll for 1 News, but all three still understated the right’s margin over the left. Morgan, Essential and Reid Research all had the left ahead in their final polls.

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