Gillard’s Labor leads race for minority governmentAugust 22nd, 2010 - 1:57 pm ICT by IANS
Sydney, Aug 22 (IANS) Counting of votes closed Sunday leaving Australia’s ruling Labor Party with a slight edge over the opposition coalition as the country headed towards a hung parliament after seven decades with the small parties emerging as king makers.
Neither side seemed close to getting the 76 seats required to form government on its own, but Labor could get closer, according to Australian news agency AAP.
When counting closed at 2.00 a.m. Sunday, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) announced Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor and the opposition coalition led by Liberal Party’s Tony Abott as winning 71 seats each with three independents and a Green.
Four other seats are too close to call. The AEC lists only two seats as doubtful - Hasluck in Western Australia and Boothby in South Australia. But Corangamite (Victoria), Brisbane (Queensland), Lindsay (New South Wales) and Denison (Tasmania) are also crucial in deciding the final outcome.
According to an AAP analysis, both Labor and the conservatives have 70 seats each. Of the six seats in doubt, Labor leads in three, the coalition in two and an independent in one.
But because of the record number of early and postal votes in all the seats, the final shape of the new parliament won’t be known until late next week.
According to Australian electoral law, postal votes cannot be finalised until 13 days of polling. The AEC said around 2.35 million people have cast votes by post this time.
The most likely outcome, at this stage, is that Labor will win Corangamite, Lindsay and possibly Hasluck to give it 73 seats. The coalition might hold Boothby just, to give it 71 seats. Andrew Wilkie would be the fourth independent MP in the lower house, leaving Brisbane too close to call.
The best the coalition can reasonably expect is 72 seats in the new parliament, which means it needs all four independents to form a minority government.
Labor’s prospects are brighter as it may end up with 74 seats, needing only to rely on newly-elected Greens MP Adam Bandt and Wilkie, who describes himself as a middle-of-the-road sort of person, to retain government.
The balance of power will shift to the Greens in the new Senate, where they seem to hold eight to nine seats, The Age wrote. That means all legislation facing the new Senate will need to be supported by either the Greens or by Labor and the Liberals voting together.
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Tags: aap, aec, andrew wilkie, australian electoral commission, australian news, boothby, brisbane queensland, denison, electoral law, government labor, independent mp, independents, julia gillard, liberal party, minority government, new south wales, opposition coalition, south australia, tony abott, western australia