New Zealand kingmaker party holds caucus meeting as it nears decision

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 12, 2017 5:02 PM

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand's small nationalist party, which wields the balance of power after an inconclusive election last month, is holding a caucus meeting on Friday as it finalizes a decision on which party it will help form a government.

The country has been in political limbo since Sept. 23 when neither the ruling National Party or the opposition Labour Party won enough seats for a majority in parliament, leaving either group reliant on New Zealand First to form a coalition.

Negotiations between parties started last weekend, and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has kept his cards firmly close to its chest about which party he will back.

Peters has said he would announce his decision by the end of next week. He said on Thursday the NZ First board would not meet to discuss its options until the weekend at the eausinrliest.

The political uncertainty has pushed the New Zealand dollar down 2.9 percent against the U.S. dollar since the vote.

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"We are still no clearer on exactly when the outcome of the now concluded coalition talks will be announced," BNZ bank said in a research note, noting that Peters had said it would be revealed by the end of next week. "The wait continues."

(Reporting by Ana Nicolaci da Costa; editing by Peter Graff)