Mon, August 23, 2010
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Australia's cliffhanger vote day

2010-08-23 03:32:08 GMT2010-08-23 11:32:08 (Beijing Time)

With Labor ahead in the early seat count in the Australian elections, earlier indicators had alternately suggested a win for Labor's Julia Gillard, then her conservative opponent, Tony Abbott.

Down to the wire.

Millions of Australians have cast their ballots.

By early evening Saturday, EXIT POLLS could only SUGGEST the slimmest of leads for current Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

But early vote COUNTING showed the conservative opposition, under leader Tony Abbott, narrowly ahead.

At stake is the 150-seat lower house and half of the 76 seat Senate -- giving the winner control of the government.

Gillard, the country's first female PM, is running on plans for a 30 percent resource tax and 38 billion dollar broadband network.

Abbott's Liberal party opposes these, while pushing for tighter immigration and spending.

Voting is mandatory in Australia but many appeared undecided -- even at the last minute -- although not these voters.

"I want a stable economy. I want a job. I'm unemployed at the moment. So, I want to enhance my job prospects."

"Hopefully a better outcome and hopefully something that will change Australia into a more united and peaceful nation and a nation that we can be proud of."

If no party wins enough votes to form a majority government the prospect of a minority government or a coalition looms.

This would put Gillards's proposed initiatives into jeopardy.

It would also upset financial markets, which worry about policy gridlock and investment paralysis.

Ian Lee Reuters

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