Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has at last claimed victory in a dramatically close national election that has left the country in limbo for more than a week.
However, with official results still days or even weeks away, it was unclear whether Mr Turnbull’s Liberal Party-led coalition had won enough votes to govern in its own right, or whether it would need the support of independent and minor party lawmakers to form a minority government.
Either way, he faces a rough road with a divided party, a splintered senate, and a politically weary public that has endured five changes of prime minister in as many years.
Though millions of votes still need to be counted, there was no way for the opposition centre-left Labour Party to win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives.
That prompted opposition leader Bill Shorten to formally concede the race yesterday, which in turn triggered Mr Turnbull to announce the coalition had won a second three-year term.
“We have resolved this election and done so peacefully,” Mr Turnbull said. Asked whether he thought his party would win a majority, he replied simply: “We’ve won the election.”
The coalition entered the race with a comfortable majority of 90 seats, and few had predicted it would suffer such steep losses. The result has raised the prospect that Mr Turnbull could face a leadership challenge.
Even if he manages to hang onto his job, he has a slew of problems to contend with. He needs to face the more conservative lawmakers in his party who are angry about his performance and upset he ousted his predecessor, Tony Abbott, in an internal leadership ballot less than a year ago.
He will also need to deal with a fragmented senate that could make it tough for him to pass laws.
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