2016 election: a long campaign and a long count

australian electoral commissionThe only certain outcome from Saturday’s federal election is that the result is still uncertain – and it could be a month before we know who will govern.

Most pundits suggest a minority Coalition government that relies on independents and minor parties is the most likely end result, although Labor would consider itself a chance to stitch together a minority government.

Despite the fact that on Monday morning the Australian Electoral Commission has not declared any seats, it seems that Labor could count on 71, the Coalition 67 with two Independents, two from the Nick Xenophon team and one each from the Katter Australia Party and the Greens.

Six seats are still too close to call, with counting not to begin in earnest again until Tuesday 5 July.

These seats include the Victorian Labor-held seat of Chisholm – where the Liberals hold a narrow lead – and the Liberal seat of Dunkley where the Liberals lead by over 400 votes. Chisholm is the only seat on the list of six that Labor holds.

While Labor will probably fall short of forming government, it does not diminish the result for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who secured the second biggest swing, (3.71 per cent), achieved against a first-term government and on Monday morning had 50.22 per cent of the vote in two party terms.

There is another possible, but highly unpalatable outcome for voters – given we have just had an eight week campaign – and that is: `hi ho, hi ho it’s back to the ballot box we go!’

To paraphrase a comment by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard on election night in 2010 – Australians had their say, it is just that no one is too sure what they actually said.

What is clear is that we will be waiting some time before we know who is going to govern or if we will be returning to the polls again.

Admittedly, a return to the polls is unlikely with Melbourne-based policy analyst Terry Barnes telling ABC News 24 on Sunday that voters would expect parties to make the disparate House work.

Tasmania produced a surprising result with Labor winning back the rural seat of Lyons and the two Northern seats of Bass and Braddon that it lost in 2013. It was one of the largest swings in the country, at a tick over 8 per cent statewide.

Unlike the Liberal results in Western Australia and NSW, the Tasmanian results can’t be blamed easily on dissatisfaction of a State Government –given the latest polling from respected Tasmanian pollsters Enterprise Marketing and Research Services in February put the Liberals on 46 per cent support compared to Labor’s 27 per cent.

Clearly Labor’s claims that the Coalition wanted to privatise Medicare have bitten particularly hard in the island state and it was no surprise given many Tasmanians rely on Commonwealth benefits or lower incomes.

In Victoria, the status quo is the most likely scenario except for the still-awaited outcome of the Labor held seat of Chisholm. It appears that Labor’s fears of a CFA backlash have not materialised.

Perhaps the biggest winners at the weekend were the Uniting Church halls hosting sausage sizzles and other fundraisers!

Image by Dean Browne via Flickr


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