ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Uncertain Verdict: The 2010 Federal Elections in Australia

The Australian federal elections held in August 2010 delivered a hung parliament, with the incumbent Australian Labor Party having to depend on independents and the Green Party to stay in power. A close reading of the election results reveals the lack of substantive, issue-based differences between the Labor and Liberal parties. A trend towards a transition to a multiparty system is also noticed.

On 21 August 2010, Australia elected its 43rd Parliament in extraordinary circumstances characterised by intrigue and controversy. The election result is equally extraordinary: the verdict is uncertain, the Parliament is unstable, and the sword of Damocles hangs heavily over the head of the minority government.

In 2007, Kevin Rudd had led the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to power after more than a decade in opposition. But in June 2010, Rudd was ousted from power by his own party colleagues amidst high drama and behind the scenes moves in the party caucus. Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister in the fallen government, swiftly assumed the prime ministership. She said she would not move into the prime minister’s official residence until elected to the office in her own right. Within a month after her ascension, she called a fresh election inviting people to “exercise their birthright, their vote, to select their government and their prime minister”. Thus, while a victory for the ALP would give a second term to the ALP government, it would also put the stamp of popular approval for the leadership change with retrospective effect.

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