As the Bee­hive num­bers are fi­nalised, par­ties jockey for po­si­tion be­hind Peters’ pen­sion­ers. By Jo Moir and Tracy Watkins.

Sunday News - - NEWS -

IT’S game on. Ne­go­ti­a­tions will get un­der way in earnest this morn­ing as NZ First leader Win­ston Peters be­gins four days of meet­ings to de­cide with whom he’ll form the next Gov­ern­ment.

Peters has headed back to Welling­ton from his North­land bolt­hole while Na­tional leader Bill English and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern jet in from op­po­site ends of the coun­try to be­gin coali­tion talks, which the NZ First leader main­tains will be wrapped up by Thurs­day.

Both main party lead­ers will be vy­ing to make an of­fer Peters can’t refuse with­out aban­don­ing their core prin­ci­pals in a game of po­lit­i­cal brinks­man­ship that plays per­fectly into .

Af­ter spe­cial votes were counted yes­ter­day, Na­tional lost two seats and the Greens and Labour picked up one each, mean­ing a Na­tional/NZ First coali­tion would hit 65 seats while Labour/Greens/NZ First would get 63 seats – two above the seat gov­ern­ing thresh­old.

But the real win­ners are ex­pected to be New Zealand pen­sion­ers, who will be ex­pect­ing Peters to drive a hard bar­gain on their be­half.

Na­tional an­nounced ear­lier this year it would raise the re­tire­ment age to 67 in 2030 but

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