Change of power in Australia’s government: After almost ten years, the Social Democrats are back at the head of the country. According to figures from ABC television, opposition leader Anthony Albanese (59) will become the country’s 31st prime minister.
The 59-year-old replaces the incumbent Scott Morrison (54) from the right-wing conservative coalition as head of government. Morrison conceded defeat late Saturday night (local time) and said he congratulated Albanese on the phone on the win.
“This is a difficult night for the Liberals,” said the 54-year-old, who announced his resignation from the party leadership. It was a privilege “to lead this great nation”. Morrison has been in office since 2018.
“Terrible day” for conservative coalition
According to ABC calculations, Labor will be able to form at least one minority government, and it may be enough for a majority government. By late evening, the party had secured 72 seats in the lower house. The majority is 76 seats. According to these figures, the conservative coalition of Liberals and Nationals, which has governed together since 2013, initially only has 52 seats. You can no longer get a majority. Defense Minister Peter Dutten spoke of a “terrible day” for the coalition.
The outcome of the election hung in the balance for a long time. The main reason was the good performance of many independent candidates, who got at least eleven seats, and the Australian Greens (The Greens), who initially won two seats. “This will completely change the political landscape in Australia,” said a commentator on Australian television. It was unclear when the final election result would be available.
The main topics in the election campaign were the economic situation and the climate crisis – especially after the recent devastating floods on the east coast. On the day of the election itself, it poured with rain in Sydney at times, and warnings about possible flooding were issued again in Queensland.
The country has also been suffering from severe droughts and devastating bush fires, coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef and tree deaths in the rainforests for years. At the same time, Australia has one of the highest CO2 emissions per capita and is one of the largest coal exporters in the world.
Albanese wants to declare war on climate change
Morrison has always been a supporter of the influential coal industry, and many Liberals are considered climate change deniers. Albanese, who has been in the House of Representatives since 1996, has pledged to make the fight against climate change a central focus of his term if elected.
Around 17 million Australians were called to vote. About half of them have reportedly voted in advance, either by absentee ballot or early voting. Last week, hundreds of polling stations were open to those unable to vote on election day. The 2.7 million postal votes were not counted on Saturday. Voting is compulsory Down Under – anyone who refuses must pay a fine of 20 Australian dollars (13.75 Swiss francs).