September 23, 2017 / 10:24 AM / a year ago

NZ First leader says his party holds balance of power in New Zealand elections

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Populist New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters said on Saturday evening that he believed his party would decide the next government after the hotly contested national elections.

Peters reiterated that he would not rush into a decision on whether to support the incumbent National Party, which has ruled for nine years, or the centre-left opposition Labour Party.

Peters said he would not say this evening or tomorrow who he would support and that his party would not rush into a decision.

Votes cast for the ruling National Party reached 46.4 percent with 80 percent of results counted by the Electoral Commission. National would likely need New Zealand First’s support to form a government, based on those results.

The final result that includes all votes will not be released until Oct. 7.

Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield and Ana Nicolaci da Costa; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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