The final election results are in and National has slipped back from election night, when it looked like it might be able to govern with the Act Party alone.
With all the special votes now tallied up, National is down two seats, the Green Party is up one and Te Pāti Māori is up two. That sets up a Parliament of 122 seats, rising to 123 when the Port Waikato by-election is held on November 25.
Parties need 62 seats to form a government in this plus-sized Parliament and National and Act together have just 59. That means they’ll need New Zealand First to play ball if they want to sit on the Treasury benches.
The change is because the special votes have once again proved to be more left-leaning than the rest of the country. These include overseas votes and votes cast by people outside of their electorate – usually students. While overseas votes are expected to have swung against Labour, this level of detail isn’t yet available. Nonetheless, Labour didn’t get much out of the specials.
On election night, National was at 39 percent of the vote, up from its disastrous 2020 result of 25.6 percent. Labour, in turn, was down from 50 percent to 26.9 percent.
With the specials now in the mix, National has fallen 0.9 percent and its coalition partners Act and NZ First have each slipped 0.4 percent as well. But Labour hasn’t risen at all – it’s still stuck on 26.9 percent. Instead, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori reaped the benefits, increasing their vote shares by 0.8 and 0.5 percent, respectively.
A closer look at the special votes show how divergent they are from the preliminary results.
If the rest of the country voted like special voters do, New Zealand First wouldn’t have made it into Parliament at all and would have earned less of the vote than Te Pāti Māori. The Greens would be nearing 15 percent, bringing in 20 MPs, while National and Act would each have dropped significantly. Labour would be stubbornly stuck on 26.9 again, but would pick up a seat with the disappearance of NZ First.
Such a Parliament, assuming all the electorates broke the same way as they did in the final results, would have seen Labour able to govern with the help of the Greens and Te Pāti Māori, sharing 63 seats between them to National and Act’s 57 (plus a likely extra in the Port Waikato by-election).
There’s another important trend highlighted by the specials as well: The abandonment of the major parties. National and Labour collectively garnered just 61.5 percent of the special votes, with nearly four in 10 going to minor parties.
That would have been the lowest result for the two major parties under MMP. The final results align with this trend, with the two Chrises earning just 65 percent of the vote. One in every three voters went with a minor party, the highest rate in more than two decades and the third highest rate since the first MMP election in 1996.
This wasn’t just “wasted” vote either. Just 5.6 percent of the party vote went to parties which didn’t make it into Parliament, down from 7.9 percent in 2020 and up slightly from 4.6 percent in 2017.
Instead, three of the four minor parties – the Greens, Act and Te Pāti Māori – saw their best ever results in the party vote.
The Greens’ 11.6 percent and 15 MPs beats a previous record of 11.1 percent and 14 MPs in 2011. Their caucus of 15 is now the second largest minor party caucus in modern history, behind only New Zealand First’s 17 MPs in 1996.
Act’s 8.6 percent and 11 MPs surpasses the record it achieved last election, of 7.9 percent and 10 MPs.
Finally, Te Pāti Māori’s 3.1 percent and 6 MPs outranks its 2008 high of 2.4 percent and five MPs.
New Zealand First didn’t come close to its 1996 record of 13.35 percent of the vote and 17 MPs, but did manage for the second time to return to Parliament after being kicked out at the prior election. It is the only party to have achieved this feat twice – Te Pāti Māori did so once, in 2020.