Three more years for PM John Key

05:34, Sep 21 2014
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Voting at Ilam School in Christchurch.
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Voting at Sumner School - she was putting her grandfather's vote in!
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Winston Peters votes at St Mary's College in Herne Bay, Auckland.
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John Key votes with his wife Bronagh and son Max at Parnell District School in Auckland.
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David Cunliffe votes in Wigram a few weeks ago.
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Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell is greeted by Tame Iti at Waiteti Marae.
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Labourleader David Cunliffe and his wife Karen Price attend their son's waterpolo game at Sacred Heart College.
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Labour leader David Cunliffe and his wife Karen Price attend their son's waterpolo game at Sacred Heart College.
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Labour's Trevor Mallard watches the results for Hutt South come in.
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John Key's election party in Parnell.
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Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira is welcomed at Te Rangi Aniwaniwa School.
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United Futures Peter Dunne arrives at the Khandallah Bowling Club.
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A Labour Party supporter watches results come through at the New Lynn Community Hall.
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President of the ACT Party John Thompson annouces that Epsom candidate David Seymour will probably win his Epsom seat.
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National's Chris Bishop watches the Hutt South results come in. He's hophing to take the seat from longtime-MP Trevor Mallard.
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Taranaki King Country National Candidate Barbara Kuriger waits for the vote to be counted.
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Conservative Party Candidate for Epsom Christine Rankin speaks with party supporters.
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A young Labour supporter at Labour Party headquarters in New Lynn.
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Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira watches television coverage alongside a supporter at Te Rangi Aniwaniwa School.
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National Party Social Development Spokesperson Paula Bennett looks pretty happy with the results.
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Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig greets supporters at North Shore Golf Club. It's looking like he won't make it into Parliament.
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National's Steven Joyce at the Viaduct Events Centre.
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National's Tony Ryall at the Viaduct Events Centre.
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National supporters at the Viaduct Events Centre.
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Gerry Brownlee watches the results come in.
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New Zealand First leader Winston Peter's arrives at the NZ First HQ.
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Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira leaves after he refused to concede defeat at Te Rangi Aniwaniwa School.
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Green Party co-leaders Metiria Turei and Russell Norman.
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Labour party leader David Cunliffe concedes, saying the 2017 campaign begins tomorrow.
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Internet Party supporter Kim Dotcom speaks to party followers.
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Internet Party leader Laila Harre greets party supporters.
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Labour party leader David Cunliffe concedes, saying the 2017 campaign begins tomorrow.
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Andrew Little with Labour supporters at New Plymouth's Labour Headquarters.
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Prime Minister John Key thanks the party faithful as he takes the stage to deliver his victory speech. He opened the speech with "three more years".
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Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell speaks to supporters at Waiteti Marae after winning the Waiariki electorat.
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Prime Minister John Key thanks the party faithful as he takes the stage to deliver his victory speech. He opened the speech with "three more years".
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Prime Minister John Key is cheered on as he makes his way to the podium.
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New MP for Clutha Southland Todd Barclay arrives with his at the Croydon Lodge.
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United Future leader Peter Dunne.

National leader John Key today faces a simple job of stitching together a new Government after winning a thumping mandate from voters last night.

But recriminations on the other side of the political fence, in Labour, are already unfolding with former leader David Shearer maligning a "tragic" result for the party.

Key and National have been returned to office with an increased 48 per cent of the vote on the night. Labour is left licking its wounds after polling a lowly 24.7 per cent and the Greens have also came up short of their expectations, securing 10 per cent.

Although there are some special votes still to be counted, National on its current numbers could govern alone. Labour, by contrast, faces yet another bruising leadership contest before the year is out.

For National to win a third term even more popular than when it began its second is unparalleled in recent memory and defies political convention. National's opponents thought dirty politics, the Dotcom bomb and the campaign from hell would lay National low. The opposite happened instead.

* Desktop: Last night's results data.

* Mobile: Last night's result data.

* Cunliffe won't resign: leadership vote by Christmas

* Harawira hitches ride into oblivion

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* Nats moving on from dirty politics?

The backlash carried National back to Government stronger than ever.

Key is now set to quickly stitch up a deal with his traditional allies - the Maori Party, United Future and Act.

National's campaign chair Steven Joyce this morning said it was "highly unlikely" the party would seek the extra cushion of a deal with NZ First. But he added that National would probably try to "build a relationship" with NZ First, with an eye to the 2017 election.

Across the aisle in the Labour camp, however, there are no easy options.

It has been an old fashioned rout, Labour's ranks decimated and some of its best talent lost.

There is no way to sugar coat the pill - Labour's campaign has been an utter failure.

Labour leader David Cunliffe blamed the distractions of dirty politics and Dotcom, but that won't head off the knives being sharpened for his back.

Labour's system of deciding the leadership means, however, it will take a while for the situation to shake down.

Under Labour's constitution a leadership vote must be held in February and it will be determined not just by the caucus, but by the unions and the party membership.

That means whoever might be positioning themselves for the leadership will have to move carefully.

They will need to court all three factions to have any hope of winning.

That could provoke more months of disunity and division within Labour.

The alternative is they throw themselves behind Cunliffe once and for all.

The party membership may be willing to do so; it will be a huge ask of his MPs after last night's rout.

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