By Lucy Craymer
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Voting closed in New Zealand’s general election at 7:00 p.m. (0600 GMT) on Saturday and counting was set to start, with provisional results due later this evening.
Opinion polls have indicated the opposition centre-right National Party looks set to gain the largest share of the vote but is unlikely to get a majority, even with the support of its preferred coalition partner, the libertarian ACT Party.
Polls predict that the nationalist New Zealand First Party will hold the balance of power. The party was Labour's coalition partner in 2017 but has said it will not work with Labour again.
New Zealand switched to a mixed member proportional system in 1996. In the 2023 election a party or coalition needs 61 of Parliament's 120 seats to form a government. There will be a by-election in November that will add an extra seat.
(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by John Mair)