National secured 46% of the vote, giving it 58 seats in parliament, while Labour took home 35.8% and 45 seats. A disappointing result for Labour after new leader Jacinda Ardern reignited Labour’s chances after taking over the leadership position 7 weeks ago.
Both parties need to form coalitions with the minor parties in order to reach 61 seats and the ability to govern.
The official election results which will include special votes will not be known for two weeks.
Negotiations between NZ First and the main parties may take some time. NZ First has previously worked with both major parties, entering into a coalition with National after the 1996 election, and with Labour in 2005.
English said he was in a strong position to negotiate, as National needed only three or four more seats to form a government, while Labour needed the support of both the Greens, who are set to take seven seats, and NZ First.