- PM in talks with independents in case he needs their support
- Commission says seats won’t be declared before July 15
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Australia’s ongoing vote count from the weekend election is looking positive for his Liberal-National coalition and he remains confident of forming a majority government.
With 82 percent of the vote counted, the coalition has won 73 seats in the 150-member lower house to Labor’s 66, according a projection by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Should Turnbull fall short of the 76 needed to form a majority, he’ll need the support of some of the five independent or minor party lawmakers who are expected to win seats.
Turnbull was meeting Thursday with independent Bob Katter and Wednesday held talks with Nick Xenophon, whose fledgling party will control at least one and maybe two lower-house seats.
“I am very confident, very confident indeed that we will form government,” Turnbull said.
The lack of a clear outcome has thrown Australia into political paralysis at a time when reform is needed to revitalize the world’s 12th-largest economy. S&P Global Ratings lowered the outlook on Australia’s AAA credit rating to negative from stable on Thursday as the lack of strong mandate potentially dented the government’s prospects for reining in a budget deficit.
Australia’s complex system of preferential voting means a definitive tally in the lower-house won’t be declared before July 15, the deadline for all postal votes to be received. It may be clear whether Turnbull can form a majority government before then.
“It’s all coming down to these small number of close seats,” Australian Electoral Commission spokesman Evan Ekin-Smyth said. “We could be hanging on one seat” and the AEC is legislatively bound to conclude all counting before declaring seats, he said.