Sydney, July 3 (IANS) Australia now faces the possibility of having a minority government, as the ballot counting in the federal elections was paused on Sunday with the result of Saturday’s polls still too close to call.
The official Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) tally has the Liberal-National coalition of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on 64 seats, while Bill Shorten’s Labour Party is on 69, Efe news reported.
As many as five seats are held by Independents and minor parties, while seven others have yet to be determined.
The Electoral Commission said in a statement that after counting more than 11 million votes on the election night, its focus on Sunday was on declaration of vote exchange — where the large numbers of absent, interstate, postal and other votes were reconciled, sorted and packaged.
“On Monday, the AEC will continue the process of verifying more than one million postal votes already returned to the AEC so that they can be admitted to the count beginning on Tuesday,” the statement said.
But despite the close results, Turnbull on Sunday morning said he expected to get the 76 seats needed to form a new administration.
“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,” he said.
Labour also voiced hopes of returning to government, thanks to gains in the elections.
“It is quite possible that Labour forms a government after this, but there is obviously a lot of water to go under the bridge,” party front-bencher Richard Marles said.
A total of 57 political and independent formations are presented in these elections, with more than 994 candidates for the House and 661 candidates for the 76-seat Senate.
The Senate, which is being completely renewed after being dissolved on May 9, is the key to support the next government.