By Lucy Craymer
WELLINGTON (Reuters) -New Zealand’s main parties will not be able to form a government without the support of the populist New Zealand First Party, according a new Guardian Essential political poll, which also saw a jump in support for the governing Labour Party.
In the Oct. 14 vote, the centre-right National Party led by Christopher Luxon is expected to emerge as the largest party with 34% of the vote, while Chris Hipkin’s Labour Party is sitting on 30% of the vote, the Guardian Essential poll showed.
However, the poll showed neither a right bloc of National and right-wing ACT or a left block of Labour, the Greens and Te Pati Maori have sufficient support to gain more than 50% of the seats. The poll indicates that New Zealand First will hold the balance of power.
New Zealand elects lawmakers using a mixed-member proportional (MMP) system that has made coalitions the norm since it was introduced in 1996.
Earlier polls have given the centre-right bloc of National and the ACT Party a larger proportion of the vote, although most recent polls put NZ First in position of kingmaker.
Both Labour and NZ First have ruled out working together after the election, so the right block will need to form a coalition or partnership with NZ First to form a government.
While Luxon said he is prepared to talk to NZ First after the election, National Party’s campaign chairman Chris Bishop warned earlier this week of the “very real and growing possibility” that a deal between National, ACT and NZ First is impossible to reach and a second election is needed.
(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Sharon Singleton and Stephen Coates)