SYDNEY – Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Sunday declared victory for the ruling conservatives more than a week after national elections despite an ongoing vote count, after the Labor opposition conceded defeat.
“Earlier today (Labor leader) Bill Shorten called me and congratulated me on being re-elected as prime minister,” Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.
“We’ve won the election, that’s what we’ve done,” he explained.
The conservative coalition still remains short of the 76 seats it needs to claim a majority in the lower house, the House of Representatives.
But it should secure at least 74, and also has the support of three independent and minor party politicians – Cathy McGowan, Andrew Wilkie and Bob Katter – guaranteeing budget supply and confidence.
Labor is currently on 66 seats, with five still in doubt.
At a news conference, Mr Turnbull said: “We have had a successful election. We have secured the largest number of seats in parliament.”
He admitted that the election was “a tough business”, but welcomed Mr Shorten’s calls for “common ground” in parliament.
Speaking earlier, Mr Shorten admitted defeat.
“It is clear that Mr Turnbull and his coalition will form a government,” he said.
“So I have spoken to Mr Turnbull earlier this afternoon to congratulate him and [his wife] Lucy and to wish them my very best.”
Earlier in April, Turnbull scheduled early elections for July 2 and ordered the dissolution of Parliament after the upper house rejected a law passed by the lower house for the second time.
Australia’s constitution allows for an early election to be called when the Senate twice blocks a piece of legislation that has been passed by the lower house, the House of Representatives.
Although ostensibly designed to resolve political deadlocks, in practice it has largely been used opportunistically by governments who see an advantage in going to the polls early.