Conservatives retain power in ‘miracle’ Australian elections May 19, 2019 0 739 12345 AFPSydneyAustralia’s ruling conservative coalition defied expectations to retain power in national elections Saturday, prompting Prime Minister Scott Morrison to declare: “I have always believed in miracles!”“How good is Australia!”, shouted a jubilant Morrison, who came to office just nine months ago in a party coup against his moderate predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull.While it remained unclear if Morrison’s Liberal party and their rural-based National party partners would win enough seats to form a majority government, the leader of the main opposition Labor party conceded defeat shortly before midnight.“It is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government”, Bill Shorten told stunned supporters in Melbourne.“In the national interest, a short while ago I called Scott Morrison to congratulate him,” Shorten said, adding that he would also stand down as leader of his party in the wake of its shock defeat.The result was a monumental upset and a failure by pollsters, who had for months predicted a comfortable victory for Labor after six years in the opposition. Some bookies had paid out early expecting a coalition defeat and all but the most ardent partisans had thrown in the towel. The results appeared to show a fractured electorate with minor populist and right-wing parties playing an outsized role in tipping the balance in favour of the conservatives in key districts in the northeast of the country.They include Pauline Hanson, whose party shrugged off revelations her party solicited money from the US gun lobby and Clive Palmer–dubbed Australia’s Donald Trump–who splashed tens of millions on a populist campaign.Australia has compulsory voting and a complex system of ballots ranked by voter preference, with big political, economic and cultural differences from state to state on the vast island-continent.- ‘Snatched a win’ -Many of the laurels for victory will go to Morrison, who just weeks ago looked set for an electoral drubbing, fated to enter the history books as one of the most short-lived prime ministers in Australian history. But he closed the gap with a negative campaign and backing from the country’s biggest media organisation–owned by Rupert Murdoch–mainly targeting older, wealthier voters concerned over Labor plans to cut various tax loopholes in order to fund spending on education, healthcare and climate initiatives.“Labor campaigned hard on a big target strategy with a series of key tax concessions, that ultimately seem not to have resonated with voters,” said Rob Manwaring, a political lecturer at Flinders University in Adelaide.“Despite the wider fragmentation of the right in Australia, they have snatched a seeming win,” he said, calling the coalition victory “extraordinary and surprising”.Liberal supporters were ecstatic over the result.“Unbelievable,” gushed Anthony Ching at the Liberal party headquarters. “Everybody was expecting that we were not going to win.”Labor backers were disconsolate. “I think Morrison campaigned on fear, and people have fallen for it,” Julie Nelson, 67. Climate change had featured prominently throughout the campaign.Australia is one of the most vulnerable of all developed nations to climate change and a season of record floods, wildfires and droughts has brought the issue from the political fringes to front and centre of the campaign. RELATED ARTICLES Merkel urges Europe to stand up to politicians ‘for sale’ May 19, 2019 0 451 Biden holds US election kick-off rally amid Democrat attacks May 19, 2019 0 1491 Brexit legislation needs to include public vote: Labour’s Starmer May 19, 2019 0 1300 Austria scandal overshadows Salvini’s European nationalist rally AFP Milan Italian populist leader Matteo Salvini on Saturday gathered Europe’s disparate nationalists for a unifying rally overshadowed by a major corruption scandal shaking Austria’s far-right coalition. The .. Austrian far-right leader resigns over ‘Ibiza affair’ Vienna: Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, a key figure of the European far-right, resigned Saturday after explosive revelations from a hidden camera sting, just days before key EU elections. “I .. Thousands of Poles, including Tusk, hold pro-EU rally before vote AFP Warsaw European Council chief Donald Tusk on Saturday joined thousands at a pro-Europe opposition rally in Warsaw, calling on his fellow Poles to vote against the eurosceptic governing conservatives in this .. British royals celebrate third wedding in 12 months London: The British royal family gathered for its third Windsor Castle wedding in a year as Lady Gabriella Windsor tied the knot on Saturday, with Queen Elizabeth II watching on. Windsor, 38, the daughter of the monarch’s .. Venezuela’s Maduro hails start of Norway-brokered talks with oppn Caracas: President Nicolas Maduro welcomed Friday the “beginning of talks” with the Venezuelan opposition in Norway, after months of bloody clashes between the two sides. “The talks have begun nicely to move toward .. N Korea demands UN action over ship seizure by ‘gangster’ US AFP Seoul North Korea has demanded the United Nations take “urgent measures” to help return a cargo ship taken by the United States, calling the seizure a “heinous” act. Washington announced last week it had taken ..