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World Australia and New Zealand 19 May 2019 Conservatives in Aus ...

Conservatives in Australia on course for 'sensational' election victory

REUTERS
Published May 19, 2019, 9:01 am IST
Updated May 19, 2019, 9:01 am IST
Though it is unclear whether the Scott Morrison-led coalition can govern with an outright majority.
The final result may not be known for some time. (Photo:AP)
 The final result may not be known for some time. (Photo:AP)

Sydney: Australia's Liberal-led conservative government was headed for a remarkable win at the national election early on Sunday after uncovering a narrow path to victory that twisted through urban fringes and rural townships.

The results upended pre-election polls which predicted a Labor victory, though it is unclear whether the Scott Morrison-led coalition can govern with an outright majority or will need to negotiate support from independents.

 

The final result may not be known for some time.

Also Read: Voting under way in climate-dominated Australia elections

"I have always believed in miracles," Morrison told cheering supporters at Sydney's Wentworth Hotel, where the government holds its official election night function.

"Tonight is not about me or it's not about even the Liberal party. Tonight is about every single Australian who depends on their government to put them first."

The conservative government has won or is leading in 72 seats in its quest for a 76-seat majority, according to the Australian Electoral Commission, with just over two-thirds of votes counted.

Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten stands on stage with his wife Chloe, at the Federal Labor Reception in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, May 18, 2019. Shorten has conceded defeat to Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the country's general election. Shorten made the announcement to supporters of his opposition Labor party late Saturday night in Melbourne. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill) Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten stands on stage with his wife Chloe, at the Federal Labor Reception in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, May 18, 2019. Shorten has conceded defeat to Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the country's general election. Shorten made the announcement to supporters of his opposition Labor party late Saturday night in Melbourne. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

Several seats are still too close to call and the final result is complicated by a large number of early votes that have delayed counting.

Morrison's coalition defied expectations by holding onto a string of outer suburban seats in areas where demographics closest resemble America's Rust Belt, blocking Labor's path to victory.

This included a devastating result in the coal-rich state of Queensland, which backed the Pentecostal church-going prime minister by defying expectations and delivering several marginal seats to his government.

Voters on Saturday cast their ballots for Morrison's message of support to aspirational voters and turned their back on Labor leader Bill Shorten's reforms.

"I know that you're all hurting and I am too," Shorten told supporters at the party's Melbourne election night function.

"And without wanting to hold out any false hope, while there are still millions of votes to count and important seats yet to be finalised, it is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government."

Shorten said he would step down as the party's leader.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, center, leaves a polling station after casting his ballot in a federal election in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, May 18, 2019. Both major parties are promising that whoever wins the election the leader will remain prime minister until he next faces the voters' judgment. The parties have changed their rules to make the process of lawmakers replacing a prime minister more difficult. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, center, leaves a polling station after casting his ballot in a federal election in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, May 18, 2019. Both major parties are promising that whoever wins the election the leader will remain prime minister until he next faces the voters' judgment. The parties have changed their rules to make the process of lawmakers replacing a prime minister more difficult. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Labor, a party with deep ties to the union movement, had promised to abolish several property and share investment tax concessions primarily aimed at the wealthy.

Both major parties suffered a decline in their primary vote, according to AEC data, which was caused in part by a well-funded campaign by Clive Palmer's populist United Australia Party.

The election sparked several high-profile local battles, including attempts to remove Peter Dutton, a senior lawmaker who has championed Australia's controversial policy of detaining asylum seekers in offshore centres.

Although Dutton has retained his Queensland seat, former conservative prime minister Tony Abbott lost his Sydney beaches seat of Warringah to high-profile independent Zali Steggall.

"So, of course, it's disappointing for us here in Warringah, but what matters is what's best for the country," Abbott told supporters in a concession speech.

"And what's best for the country is not so much who wins or loses Warringah, but who forms, or does not form, a government in Canberra."

There were also 40 of 76 Senate spots contested in the election, the outcome of which will determine how difficult it will be for the next government to enact policy.

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