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Turnbull Wins Bid to Overhaul Elections for Australia's Senate

  • Reforms seen as a sign government preparing for July 2 ballot
  • Independent candidates will find it harder to win Senate seats

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull overhauled voting laws to make it harder for independent candidates to be elected to the Senate -- a sign he may be preparing for elections as soon as July in a bid to strengthen his grip on power.

Turnbull has argued the reforms are needed to stop so-called micro-parties from winning seats in the upper house, despite garnering only tiny fractions of the vote. Eight independent and micro-party lawmakers collectively hold the balance of power in the Senate and are helping block A$13 billion ($10 billion) in budget savings.