A record 15 million people in Australia’s 23 million population voted in favour of conservatives giving the Labor party led by Kevin Rudd one of its worst-ever defeats in Australian national elections, according to reports.
Reportedly exit polls predicted an electoral wipe out for Labor showing a Coalition landslide even before the polls begin to close.
“Election officials said with about 80 percent of the vote counted, Abbott's Liberal-National Party coalition had won around 52.6 percent of the national vote, and projected it would win at least 88 seats in the 150-seat parliament.”
With the resounding victory, Tony Abbott is now Australia’s next prime minister.
Abbott, who becomes Australia's third prime minister in three month, has a daunting task ahead to end a phase of unusual political instability in Australia. He enticed voters with an array of promises including lower taxes, a crackdown on asylum seekers arriving by boat, and measures to revive the economy with the slowdown of mining boom.
Abbott inherits a slowing economy, upset by the slowdown of a mining boom that kept the resource-rich Australia out of recession during the global financial crisis.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
“The new government has vowed to lead Australia through the transition away from a decade-long mining boom, fueled by Asian demand for the nation's raw materials, that is expected to fade in particular as the pace of China's growth slows.”
The defeat of Kevin Rudd brings to an end a six-year rule of the center-left Labor Party, which has been blemished by relentless infighting, much hated tax on carbon emissions, flagging economy and political instability that reportedly left the Australians frustrated and disillusioned.
Reportedly, people’s frustration with Labor's infighting cost the government dearly at the polls.
The Labor party removed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2010, for Australia's first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard, only to reinstate Rudd in June 2013 in a desperate bid to stay in power.
“The victory for the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition comes despite the relative unpopularity of Abbott, a 55-year-old former Roman Catholic seminarian and Rhodes scholar who has struggled to connect with women voters and was once dubbed unelectable by opponents and even some supporters,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Rudd got a rousing welcome from dejected Labor party supporters in his hometown Brisbane, conceding defeat and announcing his resignation as party leader.
Abbott pledged to cut government spending, scrap both the carbon tax and levy on the excess profits of some mining companies, and immigration laws to stop asylum seekers from reaching Australia by boat.
Lately, large number of refugees from countries including Iran, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan are seeking asylum in Australian but landing on its shores through boats.
Australian’s support of Abbott's is not so much a resounding endorsement as a rejection of Labor. Here’s a conservative who has promised a tough stand on immigration and asylum-seekers.
Kevin Rudd, on the other hand, tried to sell himself as the comeback kid. Despite a number of policy reversals aimed at winning over conservative voters, his appeals didn’t work. His party now faces a stage of further introspection.