Australia is about to enter a new era in politics. They appear to have a hung parliament this morning according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
With three-quarters of the vote counted, Labor, which began the night with a notional 88 seats, had lost a confirmed 18 seats, including the seat of Melbourne to the Greens candidate Adam Bandt and most likely the Tasmanian seat of Denison to an independent, Andrew Wilkie.
Labor clawed back only two seats from the Liberals in Ms Gillard’s home state of Victoria McEwen and La Trobe giving it a net loss of 16, leaving Labor sitting on a total of 72.
But another two Labor seats were in doubt and the ABC analyst Antony Green was early today predicting Labor to finish with 72 seats, Tony Abbott’s Coalition 73, one Green and four independents.
If the Liberals won all outstanding seats, there is a slim chance they could govern in their own right.
The three incumbent independents, all former National Party members Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott will be joined on the crossbench by Mr Wilkie, a former intelligence officer who fell out with the former Howard government over the Iraq war. Both he and Mr Bandt would be more disposed to siding with Labor.
The three former Nationals were non-committal last night and Mr Windsor warned that if stable government could not be achieved, “we may all end up back at the polls”.
There was obviously dissatisfaction with Labour, which seems to have gone to the Greens
The drift of votes to the Greens killed Labor. Its primary vote fell 5.3 percentage points from the 2007 election to 38.1 per cent while the Coalition’s primary vote rose 1.6points to 43.7 per cent.
The Greens had a 3.8 per cent swing to receive 11.8 per cent.
It looks to me like the Aussies could do with a better electoral system. That 11.8% resulted in one seat in the 150 seat lower house, although they did better in the upper house.
Because of the preferential voting system in Australia and the use of secondary votes, the electoral position is more confused than the primary vote indicates.
Late last night, the national two-party-preferred swing against Labor from 2007 was 2.6 per cent. Labor led the Coalition by 50.5 per cent to 49.5 per cent.
I’d expect to get some creative constitutional principles from the coalition over the next few days. But it looks like it will come down to who the crossbench MP’s decide to support.