Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Hung Parliament for Australia - ?

It appears that, as in Tasmania and the U.K. earlier this year, Australia seems headed for a hung Parliament.  While Abbott has campaigned for a Coalition victory, and Gillard to retain government in Labor hands, I think it uncontroversial to say that this election campaign has been lacklustre.  Little wonder, then, that the people have voted, and thereby revealed their confusion, for neither side has won a majority.  What a contrast with the landslide that Rudd achieved back in 2007!

In the House of Representatives, an absolute majority of seats would be 76; with quite some luck, Labor may still just fall over the line and give a chastened Gillard a mandate to govern in her own right...  More likely, however, is at most 75 seats for Labor - perhaps only 71.  If - and it is still a big if - the seat of Melbourne falls to the Greens from Labor, and the seat of Denison in Tasmania falls to Wilkie, a left-leaning Independent, then perhaps Labor could govern in minority with support of these men.

The Coalition (Liberals and Nationals) will hold more than 70 seats, perhaps as many as 74; add to that, just perhaps, the 3 conservative Independents, ex-Nationals all, holding rural seats in northern N.S.W. and northern Queensland, and Abbott could somehow cobble together a chance of governing... still, I doubt it.  One of the ex-National Independents apparently said that he would support the party with the plurality of seats.  So close, yet so far!

The swing to the Coalition has been fairly small; latest figures (as of about 9 o'clock) suggest that 44% have voted Liberal or National, 38% Labor, and 12% Green.  The two-party preferred count is split 50-50. So, Tony hasn't won, and Julia hasn't lost - but she hasn't won either.

If I were either of those two, I'd be offering every sweetheart deal I could to those independent members, in order to win their support - and therefore the Prime Ministership.  What wheeling and dealing we'll see!

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