Australians learned election results Saturday and it was an overwhelming victory for the conservative opposition party. Early Sunday reports indicated the coalition would win a clear majority of 88 out of the 150 House of Representative seats. Labor would probably win 57. Projections in the Senate are less positive for the Liberal party.
The win for the Tony Abbott-led opposition cuts off what many consider six years of stormy Labor Party rule—marked by infighting and a troubled economy. Prime Minister-elect Abbott declared the nation, “under new management.”
This election comes only three months after Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, was ousted by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Rudd conceded defeat Saturday: “I telephoned Tony Abbott to concede defeat at these national elections. As prime minister of Australia I wish him well now in the high office of prime minister of this country.” Rudd and his wife also wished Abbott’s family well with forthcoming stresses of the office, saying, “We know a little bit of what that is like.” Rudd also announced plans to step down as Labor leader.
Campaign platforms and issues include the economy—unemployment and foreign aid being key topics—Indonesian asylum seekers sailing into Aussie waters and climate change; on the latter, Abbott is announcing his first action will be repealing an unpopular tax on Australia’s biggest polluters, which he ties to increasing power bills among citizens.
Abbott’s campaign made frequent use of social media, keeping Facebook and Twitter accounts up-to-date, and at times humorous…
Maisie is on side! pic.twitter.com/cjpiUxNCAX
— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) September 6, 2013
So what does this say for negative press about Abbott’s popularity? Pre-election press was full of dismal reports about the 55-year-old’s popularity, labeling him as “polarizing.” Abbott seems to be catapulting into the Prime Minister’s seat from improved reactions just this week. He held a confident lead in opinion polls before Australians came out to vote though he only passed Rudd this week. Polling in July by Sydney-based Newspoll had Rudd in the lead 50% to 34%.
In fun and actually related news, Google fashioned an election-day doodle for the Australian elections this week, demonstrating the process by which a ballot gets to the polling box.