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Australia - 2019 Election

Australias ruling conservative coalition secured an upset election win on 18 May 2019, with national broadcasters predicting the party has defied expectations to retain power. National broadcaster ABC called the election for Prime Minster Scott Morrisons coalition, although it was not clear if it would be a minority or majority government. Votes were still being counted in Australia's general election, with senior opposition lawmakers gaining confidence that they would form a center-left government with a focus on slashing greenhouse gas emissions. A Galaxy exit poll found that the opposition Labor Party could win as many as 82 seats in the 151-seat House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form government. Morrison's coalition defied expectations by holding onto a string of outer suburban seats in areas where demographics closest resemble America's Rust Belt, blockingLabor's strongest path to victory.

Opinion polls had suggested the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition would lose its bid for a third three-year term and Scott Morrison would have had one of the shortest tenures as prime minister in the 118-year history of the Australian federation. An opinion poll published in The Australian newspaper the day of the electon put Labor ahead of the conservatives 51.5% to 48.5. The Newspoll-brand poll was based on a nationwide survey of 3,038 voters. It has a 1.8 percentage point margin of error. Morrison is the conservatives' third prime minister since they were first elected in 2013. He replaced Malcolm Turnbull in a leadership ballot of government colleagues in August.

Both major parties promised that whoever wins the election will remain prime minister until he next faces the voters' judgment. The parties have changed their rules to make the process of lawmakers replacing a prime minister more difficult. During Labor's last six years in office, the party replaced Prime Minister Kevi n Rudd with his deputy Julia Gillard, then dumped her for Rudd.

The federal election was required to take place between 04 August 2018 and 18 May 2019 for various constitutional reasons. The previous election was an unusual double dissolution where the whole Senate and House of Representatives were contested. This time, Australia will get back into the usual pattern of electing the full House of Representatives and only half of the Senate. Within that bracket, its up to the government of the day to pick the timing.

The holding of a double dissolution election in 2016 has complicated election date calculations by effectively lopping six months from the current term of Parliament. The term of the House of Representatives is defined by Section 28 of the Constitution as lasting three years from the first sitting of the House after an election. The last Federal election was on July 2, 2016 and the House first sat on August 30, 2016, which means the House will expire on August 29, 2019. Utilising the maximum period allowed for a campaign, the last possible date for a House of Representatives election is November 2, 2019.

The holding of a double dissolution on July 2 meant the terms of all Senators began on July 1, 2016, and the next half-senate election will have to be held before the terms of Senators expire on June 30, 2019. The Australian Electoral Commission has advised it takes up to six weeks to finalise the Senate count, so May 18, 2019 has been advised as the last possible day on which a half-senate election can be held.

As governments try to avoid holding separate House and half-senate elections, May 18, 2019 is effectively the last date for holding the next House of Representatives election.

When Scott Morrison took over from Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister in August 2018, he told voters he would not rush to an early election. The former treasurer hoped his new cabinet team can ragain support after the leadership turmoil of August delivered the Coalition its worst opinion polling in a decade. Labour says the government has lost control of its own ranks and called for an election as soon as possible.

The reasons Australia had seven Prime Ministers over the past eleven years are complex and difficult to diagnose. However, there are several key differences with their political arena which mean it is much more likely a political party, rather than the public, will decide their prime ministers.

First, Australia has a lot of politicians. It is simply more difficult to achieve unity with so many people. Many of their politicians have also done nothing other than be in politics - first as staffers or union organisers, and then as elected officials. People who have only had the experience of the political bubble will more likely turn to solving the problem within rather than looking for outside solutions.

Australia also has more true swing seats - electorates that change between the major parties. This means the vote margins are tighter. Failed leadership contender Peter Dutton held his seat of Dickson in Queensland by 1.6 percent. Based on the later polling and a recent by-election in an adjacent electorate, Mr Dutton would have lost his seat at the next election. This is true also for a number of other MPs in areas like western Sydney. The decision to change leaders would be seen, especially from backbenchers, as the only way they could take any action that was going to stop them losing their jobs.

Factions are also much more prominent in both the Labor and Liberal parties in Australia. The leadership "spill" had been brewing for a while, with rising discontent from the conservative members (the right) of the party over the now-former prime minister's leadership. Mr Turnbull was from the left of the party. The relative numbers of the factions in the party was close, so any leader has to placate both sides. The winning contender - Mr Morrison - is ideologically conservative but is disliked by a number of conservatives due to his support for people on the left. He is likely to have been victorious because he was the compromise candidate.

One of the reasons leadership speculation is difficult to contain in Australia is their two 24-hour news channels. The reporters on these TV channels have to find content to fill long hours when not much is happening - an easy way to do so is with media-hungry backbenchers looking for chances to raise their profile. This is a breeding ground for gossip. Once leadership discussions start they are difficult to stop.

The Australian federal election was held on 18 May 2019 to elect members to the 46th parliament. A total of 151 seats in the House of Representatives and 40 of the 76 seats in the Senate will be up for election. The party that wins more than half the seats in the House of Representatives will come to power, with its leader becoming the country's prime minister. Support for different political parties in the run up to the election remains uncertain. Recent polls suggested that the Labor Party led by Bill Shorten was ahead of the ruling Liberal-National Coalition led by incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

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