He said it was an awesome night and that he was proud to be prime minister. "New Zealand has voted for a brighter future, and there will be a brighter future," Mr Key, who was draped in blue and white streamers, told supporters. Mr Key campaigned on promises to build on policies of the past three years, with an emphasis on sparking economic growth by cutting debt, curbing spending, selling state assets and returning to a budget surplus by 2014-15.
"The government will be focused on building a more competitive economy, with less debt, more jobs, and higher incomes," he said. Mr Key says he will sign formal agreements with two of his previous coalition partners over the next few days and will also hold talks with the Maori Party. On the opposite side, Labour has shed seats, scoring only 28 per cent of the vote, which will almost certainly spell an end to Opposition leader Phil Goff's leadership. Mr Goff, who was returned to his seat, addressed his supporters, congratulating returning and new Labour MPs.
"It wasn't our time this time," he said. "We're a bit bloodied, but we're not defeated." Labour is set to lose nine seats. Mr Goff said he would continue to fight for a fairer New Zealand and refused to answer questions about his ongoing leadership. "I rang John Key tonight and I wished him well for the next three years," Mr Goff said.
The other election winners are the Greens which have doubled their vote and will have 13 members in the 121-seat parliament. Its leaders have left the door open for negotiating a deal with the National-led government.
Maverick politician Winston Peters will also return to parliament after his New Zealand First Party tracked above the 5 per cent threshold needed to get the party into parliament.Under New Zealand's proportional voting system, parties must secure either a local electorate seat, or 5 per cent of the nationwide vote to get into parliament.
In the lead-up to the election, New Zealand First was given little chance of claiming any seats. "We told people to wait for help. Tonight it has arrived," Mr Peters told followers after securing eight seats. The final tally of seats could yet change when tens of thousands of absentee votes are counted over the next two weeks.
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