Final vote tallies makes a difference
We’re at the business end of coalition negotiations - finally. So what do we know that we didn’t know before special votes came in?
Those special votes materially changed NZ First leader Winston Peters’ view of the power balance in the negotiations - Peters made that clear when he snapped at reporters about the votes proving to be worth the wait.
Picking up two extra seats between Labour and the Greens increases the size of a centre-left majority if Peters goes that way, extra security that he will see as important.
A more level playing field also gives him further leverage with National.
We also know that Peters is still calling all the shots - Labour and National couldn’t tip-toe any higher to avoid upsetting the NZ First leader.
Security was working overtime at an empty Parliament on Sunday to block media from getting shots of the negotiating teams entering and leaving the meeting room.
What else? Peters is intending to drive a hard bargain on policy concessions - he said as much during another fiery exchange with journalists where he barked that policy was ‘‘everything’’.
So what does that mean for the negotiations?
If Peters is looking ahead to 2020 the concessions likely to be top of his list are those that shore up his base.
He has a solid and unwavering following among the over 65s who trust in Peters having their back no matter who is in government.
So the pension age, superannuation, and Peters’ mega-Gold Card will be important.
Peters has also recast NZ First as the voice for the regions - so policies to stimulate and grow jobs and exports in provincial New Zealand will be up there as well.
And a curb on foreign housing speculators and immigration are givens.
But with the exception of foreign investment and immigration - which ostensibly lean closer to Labour than National - none of those platforms seem to give either side a particular edge.
As for portfolios, there will be a number of them on the table. Deputy prime minister, foreign affairs, racing, regional development - presumably any of them are his if Peters wants them, and others for his team, though he says portfolios are not even part of the discussions yet.
But again, it’s likely pretty much the same jobs would be on the table in both sets of negotiations.
So Peters will be looking at other factors - what assurances come with the promises, and which offers come with caveats. And ultimately it might just come down to trust - which means that Jacinda Ardern and Bill English likely won’t know much in advance of the rest of us which side he has picked.
New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters.