Saturday was a critical political time for New Zealanders, as there were only two parties back to back on the polls, and they still don't know who won. The National Party got 58 seats and the Labour 45, both of them short of the 61 votes needed to win the 120-seat parliament.

For Calum Rickard, a PhD student at USC who was born and raised in New Zealand, it's interesting to watch the elections far away from home. "It's pretty amazing to see this new girl changing the face of New Zealand and hopefully make a difference for the next three years," he said, referring to Jacinda Ardern, the youngest leader the Labour Party has ever seen.

This election was already overly distinctive from past elections in NZ, as the Labour party, defined as left-wing, was unexpectedly favored over the National party, considered to be more conservative. According to Rickard, past elections have seen greater support for the right-wing, but Arden was a big change from what New Zealanders have seen in the past.

"It was a lot different because the National Party at the time had John Key as a candidate and he was super popular," he said, "Jacinda Ardern is very young, passionate, fresh to the Labour party. She also wants to increase support for students, which is a huge win for me as I got student loans and have dealt with the money side of universities in NZ."

Holly Thomas, another native of New Zealand, believes the Labour party's advantage this year is due to the candidate's personalities.

"It's the first time since Labour was in government that there has been a really good candidate for the party," Thomas said. "Bill English doesn't have the greatest personality and he's facing somebody whose biggest asset is her personality and charisma."

In fact, Ardern's personality and innovative policies gripped so many of New Zealand's young voters that local newspapers such as the New Zealand Herald referred to her campaign as "Jacindamania."

But even with her personality gripping the young voters support, Thomas thought Arden was inexperienced and had unrealistic policies, like making tertiary education free and boosting student allowances.

Saturday's election turned out to have the expected outcome that had been predicted by polls.

Given New Zealand's proportional representation system, a party needs to reach 61 seats in the 120-seat parliament to form a majority government. However, neither of the two parties collected enough seats to form a government. The National party took 46 percent of the vote, giving it 58 seats in parliament, and Labour secured 35.8 per cent and 45 seats.

Graphic by Sarah Soutoul
Graphic by Sarah Soutoul

To win additional seats, and therefore reach the majority, both parties needed to form coalitions with minor parties.

Through an alliance with the ACT Party, English's National party received one seat to add to the count, making the party two seats away from winning the majority. The Labour party seems more than likely to partner up, as in the past elections, with the Greens, giving it seven additional seats, but that is still not enough to reach the 61 seats needed to win.

Everything then comes down to the New Zealand First, the nationalist minor party led by Winston Peters. Peters has the last say in deciding who to ally with, and therefore, who will govern the country. Referred as the "kingmaker," Peters is now the one and only person to decide the fate of New Zealand.

"Unlike the U.S., we don't have a president who can make big decisions on behalf of the country," said Thomas. "Our prime minister has a lot less decision making power, so we're really not used to giving one person this much decision making power."

A final count of the elections results, including overseas votes, will be released on October 7th. However,, Peters said in previous interviews that he would not be rushed, and he would take all the time needed to make such an important decision.