by Tim Watkin

New Zealand will not fall apart while we wait for a government to be negotiated. But that does not mean we have to just accept a lack of respect for transparency and shouldn't expect better

Well, I hate to say 'I told you so'. But, this. As frustration builds over the way our new government is being built - amidst casual abuse, secrecy and over-reach - we really only have ourselves to blame, for the way this administration is being born in darkness, at least.

Amidst a pletohora of speculation around the government coalition talks, this weekend's final results made one thing very clear and Winston Peters knows it

It is a time of rune-reading, navel-scrutinizing and Winstonology. A time when little is said and those few words that escape are picked over with elaborate pontification and freighted with meaning they are too slender to bear. A time when we are often better to listen and wait than to guesstimate. And then, a speck appears.

While we wait for the specials to be counted and negotiations to begin, we can review what happened in Election 2017. A determinedly glass half-empty view of the results shows the big two parties have plenty to fret about

Bah and humbug. It could be just that I'm a producer by profession, and as such have been trained to trouble-shoot constantly and prepare for the worst. It's an occupational hazard driven by the fear of missing guests, unprepared hosts and dead air. But when I look at this year's election results I tend to see the downside for each party. So I thought, hey, why not write a post about that?

Pundit can reveal an exclusive report from inside Winston's head... We see what he's actually thinking

... And now we cross live, to the internal monologue playing out in Winston Peter's brain...

On the one hand, go with the biggest party and the two-party coalition provide strong, stable government. It's simplest to negotiate and manage because you're dealing with two agendas, not three.

With so much analysis it can be easy to miss the wood for the trees at this point. While there's still nothing certain about our next government, we can look back to look forward and recognise the historic nature of this result

It's the nature of MMP that as we try to make sense of the public will expressed in last night's results, that we dive into the entrails. We ponder paths to power and what might be in Winston Peter's mind. But in doing so we risk missing the headline number: 46.

So who might be able to work with whom after this weekend's election? Well, it's complicated...

So it all comes down to this: It's close. While the the lack of polls this election means it's hard to pick trends, it looks clear that Labour's Adern-tastic August has hit a September slump. Momentum has stalled. It may have even swung behind National, but on the available data it's impossible to say. Thus, all we can say is that it's close.

In election week, it all depends on what you see when you look around the country that will determine who gets to celebrate on Saturday night

I was walking out of a meeting with two fine people the other day, one a National Party supporter and one a Labour Party supporter. The centre-right man reckons his team has lost it, but he sighed, "the economy's going so well, we should do as little as possible. Just keep it the same".

The lack of transparency in this campaign is galling, but it's not just around tax and water. Under MMP we're voting for a coalition government and it's time politicians started acting like it

Tax, tax and more tax. Jacinda Ardern has been fending off questions about tax nearly every day since she became Labour leader. Depsite all the questions, her position is anything but transparent. But she's not alone. New Zealanders are heading into a knife-edge election blindfolded by almost all the parties.

So is Gareth Morgan going to go to court to force his way onto TVNZ's minor party debate? That story is a familiar one to me, but it also will be a defining moment for TOP

Well, this brings back memories. A colleague tonight tentatively asked, "now I don't want to trigger anything, but what happened with you and Colin Craig?". I assured her nothing but frustration was triggered, but it did take me back to 2014 and The Nation's day in court against the Conservative Party.

National and Labour leaders show just how close it is and how much is at stake, by upping the risk factor with new policy announcements live in the second leaders debate

Bill English has taken to calling this election a drag race between the two big parties, but that doesn't do justice to the twists and turns it's already taken. Today, those two main parties added significant risk to the campaign - they're taking those corners at high speed now, as we enter the final 18 days.