August 22, 2010 in Nation/World

Australian vote-counting continues in tight election

Rod Mcguirk Associated Press

(Full-size photo)(All photos)

CANBERRA, Australia – It could take more than a week to learn who will govern Australia after a cliffhanger election – the closest in nearly 50 years – and the winner may have to woo the support of a handful of independent lawmakers in order to assume power.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister, who seized power in an internal Labor Party coup only two months ago, said Saturday she will remain the nation’s caretaker leader during the “anxious days ahead” as vote-counting continues.

The Australian Electoral Commission website said early today that center-left Labor and the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition each had 71 seats, meaning neither could achieve the 76-seat majority.

“Obviously this is too close to call,” Gillard told party faithful.

Liberal leader Tony Abbott said he would immediately begin negotiations with independents to form a government.

Analyst Norman Abjorensen, an Australian National University political scientist, said the most likely outcome would be an unstable minority government led by Abbott and supported by independents. Abjorensen and other analysts predicted the final count would give Abbott’s coalition 73 seats – one more than Labor.

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