Another Country Hit by Populist Wave

Australians reject candidate who sought to reduce fossil fuels
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 18, 2019 10:03 AM CDT
Populist Wave Hits Another Country
Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten and his wife Chloe eat a sausage sandwich on a federal election day in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, May 18, 2019.   (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

(Newser) – Australia's ruling conservative coalition won a surprise victory in the country's general election on Saturday, defying opinion polls that had tipped the center-left opposition party to oust it from power and promising an end to the revolving door of national leaders, the AP reports. Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten conceded defeat late in the evening as Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Liberal Party-led coalition came close to a majority in the 151-seat House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form a government. Vote counting was to continue on Sunday. "It is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government and so, in the national interest, a short while ago, I called Scott Morrison to congratulate him," Shorten told distraught Labor supporters.

Shorten had campaigned heavily on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The tight race raised the prospect of the coalition forming a minority government. The conservatives became a rare minority government after they dumped Malcolm Turnbull for Morrison in an internal power struggle last August. The government then lost two seats and its single-seat majority as part of the blood-letting that followed. Pre-election opinion polls had suggested that the coalition would lose its bid for a third three-year term, and that Morrison would have had one of the shortest tenures as prime minister in the 118-year history of the Australian federation. The New York Times calls it a "stunning win" driven by a populist wave "that has upended politics in the United States, Britain and beyond."

(Read more Australia stories.)

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