All the indications are that Australia is heading for it’s first hung parliament since the Second World War.
Despite having come through the general election with no absolute mandate for government, the opposition coalition leader Tony Abbot was in buoyant mood:
“We do not have a clear result from tonight and I want to say that until a clear result has emerged from this election that the caretaker convention under which the government has been operating for the last five weeks must continue. What is clear from tonight is that the Labor Party has definitively lost it’s majority. And what that means is that the government has lost it’s legitimacy.”
Labour’s Julia Gillard – who made history two months ago by becoming Australia’s first female Prime Minister – may now become one of it’s shortest-lived:
“This is too close to call, There are many seats where the result is undecided. Over the next few days as the election result is being determined the conventions of our wonderful democracy ensure that I will continue to lead the government and provide strong and stable government until the outcome of the election is clearly known.”
With around two thirds of the votes counted, Labour and the Coalition both have around 70 seats out of the 150 in the lower house.
That means the balance of power is likely to lie with the Greens and a handful of independents – and political horsetrading means it could be days before the result is finally known.
Horse-trading looms after Australian election