Yesterday’s election gave us many things: long lines, #democracy sausages, extra work for meme generators, the first indigenous woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, Pauline Hanson’s feared return to the Senate (nice going Queensland).
What it didn’t give us though was a definitive result.
After tallying wrapped up on election night, neither the Coalition nor the Labor party had secured enough seats (they needed 76) to form a majority government. With less than 80% of all votes counted, Labor leads the Coalition 67 seats to 65. The AEC has postponed further vote tallying until Tuesday however, meaning there will not be a result for at least a few more days. If the election comes down to postal votes though, the result may take much longer as AEC officials must more carefully verify these ballots.
Some commentators last night even suggested a second election might need to be called.
What this means for the Coalition
Despite a hung parliament looking likely, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told his supporters last night that he was certain of forming a majority government.
“I can report that, based on the advice I have from the party officials, we can have every confidence that we will form a Coalition majority Government in the next Parliament.”
The Coalition suffered heavy losses, however, losing all three of their seats in Tasmania and four seats in New South Wales. With 13 seats left undecided, ABC election analyst Antony Green believes that the Coalition will pick up more of the remaining seats than Labor, but it still might not be enough to form a majority government. Regardless of whether they form government or not, the Coalition has had a heavy swing against them this election, with some already calling for Turnbull’s resignation.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) July 2, 2016
What this means for Labor
Addressing Labor party supporters after tallying finished yesterday, opposition leader Bill Shorten appeared positively jubilant.
“The Labor party is back.”
Mr Shorten had good reason to be happy, as his party enjoyed a 3.39% swing in their favour, resulting in an additional 12 seats (and possibly more). They will almost certainly not be able to form a majority government, however, meaning their best outcome now is forming a minority government with the Greens and independents.
A minority what?
A minority government happens when neither major party wins the 76 House of Representative seats needed to form a majority government. This is called a hung parliament. Therefore, either party needs to make alliances with independents to pass legislation, or to really get anything done. Basically, minority governments are formed so that the Prime Minister and opposition leader don’t have to fight out the election trial-by-combat style.
This happened to the Labor Gillard government in 2010. The sitting government usually gets the first attempt at forming a minority government in cases of hung parliaments. With Greens MP Adam Bandt almost certainly not supporting a Coalition government, Malcolm Turnbull will need to gain the support of independents like Bob ‘Akubra’ Katter and newly elected Nick Xenophon Team representative Rebekha Sharkie.
Stay tuned – the final result of the 2016 federal election will come to the wire.