Australia election: Tight vote could end in hung parliament

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(BBC) Australia will not know the result of its federal election for days as counting in tight seats continues. Twelve out of 150 lower house seats remain in doubt, with counting of pre-poll, postal and absentee votes to resume on Tuesday.

The official Australia Electoral Commission tally has Labor on 71 seats and the ruling Liberal-National coalition on 67 seats.

Independents and minor parties gained an unprecedented share of the vote.

 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said early on Sunday morning he expected to get the 76 seats he needs to form a new administration. Postal votes are expected to favour his candidates.

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull speaking in Sydney 2 July 2016

PM Malcolm Turnbull said he expects to get enough seats to form a government (EPA photo)

Analysts are still predicting that Mr Turnbull’s coalition will come closest to forming a government, though a hung parliament, where neither party has an absolute majority, is likely.

In that case, both Mr Turnbull and Labor leader Bill Shorten will have the chance to form government by doing a deal with independents and minor parties.

Mr Shorten said in a speech that Mr Turnbull’s coalition had lost its mandate to govern. Nearly a quarter of Australians voted for a lower house candidate from outside the major parties.

Voting is compulsory in Australia and uses the alternative vote system where voters rank candidates in order of preference.

All 150 seats in Australia’s lower house, the House of Representatives, were being contested at this election, as were all 76 seats in the upper house, the Senate.

Ballot paper in Australian elections 2 July 2016

For the first time in decades, all lower and upper houses were being contested in a single election

Results for the Senate vote are expected to take several weeks.

It is the first time in decades that all the seats in both houses have been contested in a single election. the double-dissolution election, as it is known, was called by Mr Turnbull in an attempt to break a deadlock over industrial relations legislation.

Counting will not resume until Tuesday because postal votes, absentee votes and pre-poll votes need to be packaged up and returned to each electoral district to be processed.

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