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Oz polls a cliffhanger; opposition leads in early trends

Billed as having just an outside chance, Australian opposition leader Tony Abott stunned everyone by leading his Liberal party to an early 45-36 seat lead in the knife-edge national elections.



Melbourne: Billed as having just an
outside chance, Australian opposition leader Tony Abott
stunned everyone by leading his Liberal party to an early
45-36 seat lead in the knife-edge national elections.

Minutes after the voting ended, ABC reported that
Abott`s Liberal and National Party coalition was enjoying an
over two per cent vote swing which could leave Australia`s
first woman Prime Minister Julia Gillard a two-month wonder.
But, so far only 2.4 per cent of more than 14 million
votes had been counted, which put the two parties neck and
neck and the outcome too close to call.

Gillard, 48, whose ruling Labor party was shown
marginally ahead in opinion polls in the run up to the
elections, was also shown leading closely in the Exit polls
taking at 6:00 pm local time (1330 IST).

Two separate television exit polls conducted as the
polling closed predicted Gillard`s win by 51 or 52 per cent of
the vote to Liberal coalition`s 48 or 49 per cent, but also
indicated dangerous swings against the ruling party in key
marginal seats.

Dubbed "mad monk", the London-born Rhode scholar was
considered a rank outsider when he surprisingly became Liberal
Party leader in December and was trailing when the campaign
started five weeks ago after Gillard called a snap poll.

A fitness fanatic, 52-year old Abott almost did 14 to
18 hours of campaigning to leave Labor`s three year government
hanging in balance.

The general election has been billed as one of the
tightest in decades.

Polling booths had stockpiled 43 million ballot papers
and were being supervised by some 70,000 temporary electoral
staff.

Ahead of the polling, according to a poll for `The
Age`, Gillard`s two-month-old Prime Ministership was hanging
in balance.

Her Labour party was leading at 52 per cent in the
Age/Nielsen poll, down a point in a week, while the opposition
Coalition was at 48 per cent. There has been a swing of about
1 per cent against the Labour since 2007, the report said.

The poll results are not expected to be known for
until two weeks as a huge number of voters had earlier cast
their ballots through post.

According to `The Age`, over two million Australians
had cast early ballots or requested postal votes, representing
more than 14 per cent of those enrolled to vote.

This is almost 460,000 more early and postal votes than
had been cast at the same point in the 2007 campaign.

Due to changes to electoral laws made this year, early
votes cast in the electorate in which the person is enrolled
will be counted on election night.

The electoral commission will not begin counting
pre-poll votes cast outside the voter`s electorate, and postal
votes, until tomorrow.

PTI

From Zee News

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