October 7, 2017 / 3:00 AM / 9 months ago

NZ opposition Labour says in a stronger position to negotiate government after final election tally

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand opposition Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday a final election vote tally put her party in a strengthened position as it negotiates to form a government with the nationalist New Zealand First Party.

FILE PHOTO: Jacinda Ardern (C), New Zealand's new opposition Labour leader, speaks to the press alongside members of her party after Andrew Little stepped down in Wellington, New Zealand, August 1, 2017. REUTERS/Charlotte Greenfield/File Photo

The final count for the Sept. 23 election showed Labour and its potential coalition partner the Green Party with an extra two seats in the 120-seat parliament, taking their combined seats to 54.

The ruling National Party has 56 seats.

Either bloc would need the New Zealand First Party, which has nine seats, in order to govern government.

Ardern said negotiations, which had kicked off on Thursday, would continue over the weekend

Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield and Ana Nicolaci da Costa; Editing by Michael Perry

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