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Nats Lead But Only Just, Election Could Go Down To The Wire

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

NZPA political reporters

Wellington, Nov 6 NZPA - National has just enough support to win the election but it would take only a small swing for Labour to hold on to power, latest polls show.

TV One and TV3 released surveys tonight showing National still holding a strong lead over Labour but with the Greens storming in to narrow the gap between the centre-right and the centre-left.

NZPA's rolling poll, an average of the last six published polls, puts National on 46.4 percent support which would give it 59 seats in a 123-member Parliament.

Its partner ACT is on 2.3 percent, good for three seats, and United Future's Peter Dunne adds another to the centre-right.

National and its allies would hold 63 seats.

Labour stands at 34.9 percent and 44 seats, the Greens have risen to 8.6 percent and 11 seats, and Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton adds another to the centre-right.

Labour and its allies would hold 56 seats.

The other four would be held by the Maori Party, and if it joined Labour the numbers in Parliament would be 63-60.

The rolling poll results show National wouldn't need the Maori Party but Labour would have to persuade it to join the centre-left to get within striking distance of the centre-right.

The results also show that since the campaign began the gap has been steadily closing, but very slowly and probably not fast enough for Labour to be able to seize a majority on Saturday.

Before tonight's polls were released Labour leader Helen Clark and National's John Key moved into the frenzied final stages of the campaign and both used Barack Obama's victory in the US presidential election as an example for Kiwi voters.

Working the malls of south Auckland, Miss Clark said voters had a clear choice on Saturday.

"It's a government with a proven track record and a strong leader with a plan to make sure we come through the economic downturn ... and on the other side a pack of slogans, determination to cut spending and the old privatisation agenda is pretty clear," she told reporters.

Miss Clark said the United States had moved left in reaction to the international financial turmoil and deregulation.

"It would be a travesty ... if that were not matched by New Zealand staying with a progressive government."

Mr Key, campaigning in Christchurch during his airborne blitz of the country, said Americans had voted for change and New Zealanders would have the opportunity on Saturday to follow their lead.

He didn't have an easy time in Cathedral Square, where yelling Labour supporters drowned him out with chants of "tell the truth".

His frustration boiled over. "The truth is you're an idiot," he shouted back at one heckler.

Mr Key thinks it's important to hit as many centres as possible in the last two days of the campaign.

Miss Clark said he was going to spend more time on the plane than talking to voters.

She was in south Auckland to shore up Labour's heartland vote in an area which helped it win the last election.

"I've been out and about a lot on this campaign and the feeling on the ground has been very, very positive which somehow doesn't link up with some other impressions that come through the polls."

Labour has insisted for weeks that its own polling shows the centre-left Labour/Greens vote is running neck and neck with the centre-right National/ACT support.

"I remain very optimistic that the heartland is going to come out and put Labour plus the Greens, plus others, in a very competitive position," she said today.

Neither Miss Clark nor Mr Key wanted to talk about whether they were prepared to give cabinet positions to MPs from minor parties through coalition or support deals.

"Now isn't the time to be talking about who gets what jobs," Miss Clark said.

"Now's the time to be getting out and getting votes."

Mr Key said he would talk to the minor parties in good faith -- after the election.

The Maori Party wants one of its MPs to be given the Maori affairs portfolio if it is in a position to strike deals.

Mr Key said the issue wouldn't be a deal-breaker if it came up.

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