New Zealand Prime Minister-elect Luxon to get cracking on building coalition relationships

FILE PHOTO: Christopher Luxon, Leader of the National Party waves to supporters at his election party after winning the general election to become New Zealand’s next prime minister in Auckland

By Lucy Craymer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) -New Zealand's prime minister-elect, Christopher Luxon, said on Monday while his party was waiting for special votes to be counted, they were working on building relationships with both ACT New Zealand and New Zealand First.

Luxon's centre-right National Party and preferred coalition partner ACT won a razor-thin electoral victory on Saturday, together securing 61 seats in 121 seat parliament.

While National and libertarian party ACT have the numbers to form a government on the current count, roughly 567,000 special votes, around 20% of the total, must still be counted. The official result is due on Nov. 3, and conservative parties have historically lost at least a seat with the final count.

Luxon, 53, a relative newcomer to politics and former airline executive, told a press conference on Monday National would be waiting for the special votes to be counted before officially forming a government.

"We are working very strongly to build relationships and also to work through arrangements with respective parties. We are going to do that confidentially," he said.

He added he would ideally like to have a government formed before the Pacific Island Forum and APEC meetings in early November but that this will depend on the special votes and how negotiations have progressed.

New Zealand is currently being governed by a transitional government run by Labour.

Luxon, a protege of former prime minister John Key, said the process of transition between the two governments was under way but would not comment on current issues such as New Zealand's response to the Israel's intense bombardment of Gaza as they was the responsibility of the Labour government.

Newly elected members of parliament are also in Wellington on Monday to begin their induction to parliament.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lincoln Feast.)