Australian Election Results in Political Chaos

Like the earlier British election but with kangaroos

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Australia's election was Saturday, but its outcome remains undecided. Votes are still being counted, but what seems clear, according to the BBC, is that "both the ruling Labor party and the opposition conservative coalition appear to have fallen short of the 76 seats needed for a majority." That leaves Australia in roughly the same chaotic situation as Britain was in with its past election: negotiations must begin to figure out which group of parties will govern. Here's what's happening and why it's important:

  • The Ones Making the Decisions  The Australian parliament's "three independents have," explains The Weekly Standard's Adam Brickley, "in some sense, just become the most powerful men in Australia." Negotiating as a bloc (so announces the BBC), they have "the nation ... on pins and needles as they decide which side to support." Meanwhile, "the Green Party also managed to win it's first ever seat in the lower House, potentially giving the far-left environmentalists a role in breaking the tie--though they look pretty certain to back Labor." The bottom line is that "Labor was firmly rebuked by the electorate, and [Labor leader] Julia Gillard's plea to stay in power has generated comparisons to Gordon Brown," whose governance would have been seen by many as illegitimate, and who eventually gave in.
  • This Will 'Haunt' the Current Party 'for Many Years,' predicts Paul Kelly, referring to Australia's Labor Party. This "is the worst result for a first-term government since Scullin Labor in the Great Depression." He adds that "Australia is at risk, politically and financially, in a globalised world." He calls "hopes that Australia can organise stable government from this hung parliament ... heroic."
  • Your Comic Summary of the Australian Elections  "Proof positive, by the way," says Outside the Beltway's James Joyner, who unearths the video with help from Richard Gardner, "that as trivial as American politics can and often is, we're hardly alone."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.