Australian election: Voters go to the polls as the gap between the two parties narrows | World News

Australians headed to the polls on Saturday to vote in a national election that showed the Opposition leading in opinion polls.

Labor is narrowly leading the ruling Conservative coalition although a strong showing by climate-focused independents could lead to a hung parliament.

Center-left Labor has a pretty good lead when it comes to campaigning after nine years of opposition, but recent polls
shows Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s centre-right Liberal-National government has closed the gap in the final stages of a fraught six-week campaign.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s centre-left Labor Party is the most popular, winning its first election since 2007.

But Mr Morrison defied opinion polls in 2019 by leading his coalition to a narrow victory. This victory will get him a historic fourth term.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison poses with his British counterpart Boris Johnson at the G20 Summit in Rome in October
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson at the G20 Summit in Rome

His coalition holds the least majority – 76 seats in the 151-seat House of Commons, where parties need a majority to form a government.

Explainer: How are the Australian elections going and who to watch in 2022?

Both leaders will campaign in Melbourne on Saturday before voting in their hometown of Sydney.

The first polling stations will close on the east coast of the country at 6pm local time (0800 GMT). The west coast is two hours later.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits Tokyo
Due to the pandemic, more than 48% of Australia’s 17 million voters have cast their ballots early or applied to vote by mail

Due to the pandemic, more than 48% of Australia 17 million voters have already voted early or applied for a ballot by mail, which will likely slow down the counting process.

The government changed regulations on Friday to allow people who have recently been infected with COVID-19 to vote by phone.

Voting is mandatory for adult citizens and 92% of registered voters voted at the last election.

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