Australians began voting today to nominate members of their new parliament, an ambiguous vote, but it is expected to mean a return to Labor power after nine years of Conservative rule.
The polling stations opened at 08:00 (local time; 01:00 Greek time) and will close at 18:00 (11:00 Greek time).
The 17.2 million voters will elect the 151 members of the House of Representatives for a three-year term, as well as forty of the 76 members of the Senate. The party or alliance that secures the most seats in the lower house will automatically take over the formation of the next government.
Labor leader Anthony Albanyzi, the front-runner in the polls to take over as prime minister, has admitted that an “ambiguous” battle is expected.
In recent days, outgoing Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in power since 2018, seems to have reduced the Labor lead, yet he is still on the verge of defeat. A poll conducted by the Ipsos Institute on Thursday gave Labor a 53-47% lead over the ruling coalition. Another poll, by the Essential Institute, which aired the previous day, showed a more ambiguous battle (48-46%, within the margin of statistical error).
The two camps are trying to attract the votes of a constituency worried about rising living costs, with inflation estimated at 5.1% year-on-year and wage increases not being followed in real terms.
In a country marked by increasing floods, fires and droughts in recent years, Labor is trying to attract votes by promising to do more for the environment.
Mr Morrison, a staunch supporter of the coal and gas industries, is resisting global calls for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions beyond the current target (-28% by 2030).
Voting is mandatory in Australia: those who abstain are at risk of being fined A $ 20 (€ 13).
The rules were changed at the last minute so that more citizens with COVID-19 symptoms could vote by telephone. This is the first time that federal elections have been held since the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Conservative Prime Minister Morrison, who won the election three years ago despite wanting to lose his polls, miraculously reiterates the same message that served him well last time: Australians can not trust them. Hardworking in terms of the economy.
He praised the good performance of economic indicators, especially the reduction of the unemployment rate (3.9% in April, the lowest level in the last 48 years), talking about “extraordinary success” which shows that his plan is bearing fruit.
He describes Mr Albanezi as “fragile” and points out his blunders, which have been widely reported in the media, for example when he forgot what the unemployment rate was in front of the press.
“Prime Ministers need to know these things,” Mr Morrison pounded yesterday, saying that everyone saw that his opponent was not being “lifted” to the level of the task he wanted to take on.
For his part, Mr Albanezi vowed to take action against corruption, calling the coalition government (Liberal / National Party) under Scott Morrison “poor quality”, “less open and less equitable in Australian political history”. “out of reality” at a time when “people are having a hard time getting by”.
In addition to the economy, the issue of credibility was also widely raised during the six weeks of the election campaign.
Mr Morrison’s honesty has been repeatedly questioned, sometimes by ministers in his own government, but also by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has accused the Australian Prime Minister of cheating him when he canceled a bilateral purchase agreement. French conventional submarines.
Mr Morrison acknowledges that he sometimes acts like a “bulldozer” and says he knows he “has to change the way” he does certain things.