SYDNEY (REUTERS, AFP) - Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday (July 10) said his ruling government has won victory in the federal election as the opposition Labor Party conceded defeat eight days after voters went to the polls.
Counting of votes continues but with forecasts indicating the ruling conservative government will enough seats in Parliament to secure an outright victory, Australia’s opposition Labor Party on Sunday conceded defeat.
While Turnbull retained power, his gamble in calling an election, ostensibly to clear the Senate of what he saw as obstructive minor parties, backfired badly with a swing to the centre-left Labor opposition and a rise in the popularity of minor parties and independents.
“It is clear that Mr (Malcolm) Turnbull and his coalition will form a government,” Labor Party leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Melbourne, adding that he called Mr Turnbull on Sunday to congratulate him.
Counting of votes in the marathon election continues, but Mr Shorten said the ruling coalition government headed by Mr Turnbull would secure enough seats to retain power.
The coalition has won 74 seats in parliament. With vote counting continuing into an eighth day, it is expected to win at least two of the five seats that remain in doubt, giving Mr Turnbull the support needed to form a majority government.
Although Mr Turnbull is expected to form a majority government, he is likely to be forced to depend on several independent members to get legislation through the lower house, raising questions about the long-term functioning of his government.
Labor vowed not to unduly disrupt the new parliament, however.
“Australians have made it clear, with the representatives they have selected, that they expect us to work together,” said Shorten. “I pledge, and I have indicated to Mr Turnbull, that where there is common ground, we work very hard to accomplish it.”
Labor has won 66, and with five independents elected, the opposition does not have sufficient seats to govern in Canberra, according to the projections.
The two seats the coalition believe it will pick up are among five still in the balance.
Mr Turnbull lost the government’s comfortable majority in the House of Representatives in last Saturday’s election after his campaign on “jobs and growth” and “innovation” failed to resonate equally across the vast island continent.
Australia has endured a “revolving door” of prime ministers in recent years, with leaders removed at the ballot box and via internal party room coups. Mr Turnbull became the nation’s fourth prime minister since 2013 when he rolled Liberal leader Tony Abbott in a party vote last September.