New Zealand’s Prime Minister Bill English, aspires to continue with its liberal economic policies, while Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, supports causes such as free tertiary education and decriminalisation of abortion.
Opinion polls indicate there has been a swing back to English in the waning days of the campaign after Ardern had all the early momentum.
No party has formed a majority government in New Zealand since proportional voting was adopted in 1996, and this election is unlikely to change that.
English said on Friday he would try to form a government even if Labour and the Greens received more support than National on Saturday night.
Another possibility is that there will be no victor on the night as both major parties seek coalition partners to get them over the line.
New Zealand First, led by Winston Peters of Scottish-Maori origin, is expected to play kingmaker in forming the government if it decides to support the National or a hypothetical coalition of the Greens and the Labour Party.
Polling booths opened at 9am (5am Singapore time) and will close at 7pm (3pm Singapore time).
Nearly a million people have already taken advantage of early voting this week, the biggest ever turnout of advance voters in the country’s history, according to CNN affiliate Radio NZ.
“This is going to come down to whether or not people turn out and vote”, she said on Friday.
Ardern has enjoyed a remarkable surge in popularity since taking over as opposition leader last month.
Jacinda Ardern has made her campaign about shaking things up, pointing the finger at the governing National party for widening inequality during its nine years in office.
English also wants to make amends for his last leadership foray in 2002, when National slumped to a record defeat and won barely 20 per cent of the vote.
Polls heading into Saturday’s vote put the two main parties neck-and-neck, with a slight advantage for National in some surveys, according to CNN-affiliate Radio NZ.
This means the next government is likely to be a coalition with one of the small parties.