According to projections published by the ABC channel after counting half of the votes, Anthony Albanese’s Labor Party wins the largest number of deputies in the House of Representatives.
But with only 72 seats secured so far, he was not yet certain of winning the absolute majority of 76 deputies necessary to form a government without having to find an ally.
“This evening I spoke to the Leader of the Opposition and the new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and I congratulated him on his election victory,” Mr Morrison nevertheless declared, acknowledging his defeat.
Some 17.2 million voters were called upon to choose the 151 seats in the House of Representatives for a three-year term. Forty of the 76 seats in the Senate were also renewed for six years.
After three years marked by major natural disasters and the pandemic, Australians have voted in an unusual number of “small” pro-environment candidates who could hold the keys to power.
The acclaimed “teals”
The Green Party and independent candidates nicknamed “teals” – mostly highly qualified women advocating environmental protection, gender equality and the fight against corruption – were on their way to conquering a series of urban constituencies traditionally devolved to the Conservatives.
“People have said the climate crisis is something they want to do something about,” exulted Green Party leader Adam Bandt.
“We just had three years of drought, then fires and now floods and more floods. People can see it, it’s happening, it’s getting worse,” a- he added.
The defeat of Mr. Morrison ends nine years of Tory rule over the huge country-continent.
The electoral campaign focused on the personality of MM. Morrison and Albanese, the candidates of the traditional parties, relegating political ideas to the background.
But young Australians are increasingly angry at the government’s pro-coal policies, difficulties in finding affordable housing and the misuse of public money.
“I grew up in a community that has been very badly affected by fires and floods over the past five years,” Jordan Neville, who was voting for the first time, said at a Melbourne polling station. “If anything could be done to prevent this from happening again, that would be amazing.”
Mr Morrison has resisted calls to cut Australia’s carbon emissions faster by 2030, and wholeheartedly supports the coal industry, one of the driving forces of the country’s economy.
Lagging behind in the polls for a year, he took advantage of the economic recovery and an unemployment rate currently at its lowest in 48 years. He portrayed his Labor rival as a “free spirit” unfit to run the economy. But he suffered from low personal popularity and accusations of dishonesty.
On Saturday, Mr Albanese meanwhile asked voters to give his centre-left party “a chance” to lead the country, and urged people to reject a “dividing” prime minister.
The Labor leader – who himself has been described as bland and uninspiring – focused in the final days of the campaign on Mr Morrison’s alleged failings.
Australians “want someone who is fair, someone who will admit their mistakes,” he said.
He pledged to end Australia’s backlog in tackling climate change, help people facing soaring prices and strengthen indigenous peoples’ participation in shaping national policy .
He may now have to strike deals to govern with candidates demanding tougher climate action, risking the ire of pro-coal and mining union factions in his party.
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