Australian voters sharply rebuked the centre-right government, ending nine years of Conservative rule, by voting for the centre-left opposition who promised strong action on climate change.
Australian Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese appeared confident of forming a minority government, although it was unclear whether the party would have enough seats for a majority, according to projections by three news networks.
The parties need a majority of 76 seats to form a majority government. Labor currently holds 73 seats, according to the Australian Electoral Commission.
The initial count showed a strong swing towards Greens and independents candidates who demanded emissions cuts far in excess of commitments made by Morrison’s coalition.
Amanda McKenzie, CEO of the Climate Council research group, declared climate action the winner of the vote.
“Millions of Australians have put climate first. Now, it’s time for a radical reset of how this great nation of ours deals with the climate challenge,” he said in a statement.
Albanese served as a minister in the previous Labor government under Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, before taking over as Labor leader after the party’s most recent election defeat in 2019.
That defeat left Labor gasping for breath and they returned to this election campaign with more modest promises so as not to scare voters worried about radical change.
More than a policy contest, this election focused on the character of the leaders. Morrison was deeply unpopular with voters, and he seemed to acknowledge it when he admitted during the last week of the campaign that he had been “something of a bulldozer.” He was referring to having made tough decisions during the pandemic and breaking up a submarine deal with France, but reflected claims about his leadership style as more authoritarian than collaborative.
Speaking to supporters on Saturday night, Morrison said he called Albanese and congratulated him on his election victory. “I have always believed in the Australians and in his trial, and I have always been prepared to accept his verdict,” he said.
“Three years ago, I stood up in front of you and told you that I believed in miracles. I still believe in miracles,” he said, pointing to his family. “But there is another great miracle that I want to give thanks for tonight. And that is the miracle of the Australian people. What Australians have endured in recent years has shown tremendous depth of character, resilience and strength.”
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.