WELLINGTON — New Zealanders’ agonising wait for a general election winner is set to enter a third week, as populist "kingmaker" Winston Peters on Thursday again delayed announcing who he was backing.
The South Pacific nation has been in political limbo since the September 23 polls failed to deliver a clear majority for either conservative Prime Minister Bill English or opposition leader Jacinda Ardern.
They both require Peters’ support to pass the 61 seats needed to form a government, but the 72-year-old has drawn out the negotiations as he seeks maximum advantage for his New Zealand First (NZF) party.
Peters initially gave himself until Thursday to announce his decision but reneged on the pledge earlier this week.
He then quashed hopes the issue would be settled on Friday, saying that was too early to convene the NZF board to discuss a potential deal with English or Ardern.
"It depends upon the logistical availability of the board, which could be Saturday, Sunday or Monday," he told reporters in Wellington.
"It is a priority (but) people do have to come from all over the country."
It is the third time Peters, best known as an anti-immigration campaigner, has found himself in the role of kingmaker under New Zealand’s proportional voting system.
He opted for National in 1996 in return for being made deputy prime minister and backed Labour in 2005 after it agreed to make him foreign minister. — AFP