New Zealand government seals majority
Wellington - New Zealand's conservative National Party on Monday signed agreements with two allies in the wake of last month's general election to give it a narrow two-vote majority in parliament.
The Nationals won 60 seats in the 121-member House of Representatives at the November 26 election, inflicting a resounding defeat on the main opposition Labour Party, which won 34, but falling short of an outright majority.
After a week of negotiations, Prime Minister John Key signed co-operation agreements with each of the single members of the centrist United Future and free market ACT parties to win parliament seats.
The pacts fall short of a formal coalition, but both guaranteed to support Key's party in critical votes on money supply and confidence.
United Future's legislator Peter Dunne, who has served in governments led by both National and Labour, retains the position of minister of revenue that he held in Key's first administration elected in 2008, although he will remain outside the formal cabinet.
He will also have assistant minister responsibilities for the health and conservation portfolios.
John Banks, a former National Party minister who joined the ACT party recently to fight the election under new colours, is to be made minister for small business, and minister for regulatory reform, again outside the cabinet.
He will be given assistant minister responsibilities for education and commerce.
The Nationals are negotiating similar co-operation pacts with the three Maori Party legislators who won seats at the poll. Key said he would not name his new cabinet until those negotiations are complete.
The new parliament was to meet on December 21.