NPR logo Australian Election Still In Doubt


Australian Election Still In Doubt

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Andrew Meares/POOL FAIRFAX hide caption

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Andrew Meares/POOL FAIRFAX

Australia's opposition leader Tony Abbott. Mark Graham/AP hide caption

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Mark Graham/AP

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is now Australia's caretaker leader after just two months on the job. Her governing Labor Party lost its parliamentary majority in Saturday elections, but the opposition coalition group of Liberals (which Americans may view as politically conservative) and Nationals didn't win either.  A party must claim 76 parliamentary seats to govern: Gillard's Labor party took at least 72 seats and the opposition currently holds 70. Four seats were won by other parties and four seats remain in doubt. Gillard and Abbott are wooing the independents for support. Two independents are former Abbott coalition supporters but they also want the government to finance a huge broadband project, something Abbott vows to dump. The key issue remains a plan to tax mining companies over their carbon pollution. Gillard's predecessor, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, campaigned on the issue in 2007 then dropped it this year, leading to his ouster as Labor Party and Australia's leader. Gillard has promised to revive the proposal if she wins.