Australia election result deadlocked

 

Australia's two major political parties are set to end up with an equal number of seats after weekend elections, a well-respected polls analyst said today, suggesting neither party has the edge in forming a government.

Antony Green, a closely watched analyst who uses computer algorhythms to project elections results, said on the ABC News website that the ruling Labor Party and conservative opposition would each win 73 seats in the 150-seat lower house. Seventy-six seats are needed for outright victory.

Three independents and one Green MP would hold the balance of power. Mr Green's projections can change as more votes are counted. The final count could take another week or more finish.

The Australian Electoral Commission's current official tally is 71 seats each for Labor and the conservatives.

Australia looks likely to be in political limbo for at least another week, as the vote count drags on and as the incumbent Labor government and the conservative opposition compete to secure the support of independent and Green MPs.

Australia's independent lawmakers indicated they will take time to decide whether to back Prime Minister Julia Gillard or opposition leader Tony Abbott.

But as Ms Gillard flew to Canberra and talks with independent MPs, some investors and punters were betting on her demise, driving mining shares higher on hopes that her proposed mining tax would fall with her.

Australia's next prime minister will need proof of support from independent candidates to win approval by the governor general to form a government, or else the legislature will decide, a constitutional expert said.

Should either Ms Gillard or Mr Abbott gain the independents' support in writing, that would be enough to convince Governor General Quentin Bryce to let that leader form the next government, George Williams, a law professor at the University of New South Wales, said.

Reuters