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Sunday, July 3, 2016, 17:03

Australian govt in limbo with election too close to call

By Reuters

Australian govt in limbo with election too close to call
This combo taken on July 2, 2016, shows opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten with his wife Chloe (left ) voting in Melbourne, and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull voting with his wife Lucy in Sydney. ( William WEST Lukas COCH / AFP POOL / AFP)

SYDNEY - Australia woke up to the prospect of a hung parliament or a minority government on Sunday as vote counting in a federal election was paused with the result too close to call.

The exceptionally close vote leaves Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's government in a precarious position, potentially needing the support of independent and minor parties to form a government.

Official electoral data for the House of Representatives showed a 3.2 percent swing away from the Liberal-led coalition government when officials clocked off in the early hours of Sunday with almost 10 million votes counted.

The shift to the opposition Labor Party and independent groups is a major blow for Turnbull who had gambled on a risky double dissolution of parliament in a bid to oust intransigent independents in the upper house Senate blocking his economic agenda.

With vote counting not resuming until Monday, a jubilant Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition Labor Party, declared: "The Labor Party is back."

The Election Commission said its focus on Sunday was on the declaration vote exchange - that is where the large numbers of absent, interstate, postal and other declaration votes are reconciled, sorted and packaged.

Opinion polls heading into Saturday's vote had showed a potentially tight vote after the landslide victory that brought the coalition to power in 2013; but just how tight still caught many by surprise.

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