On 18 May, 2019, Scott Morrison declared a conservative victory in what became a shockingly close election in Australia. According to Aljazeera, Morrison’s conservative Liberal-National coalition surpassed the latest exit polls that indicated Bill Shorten’s Labor coalition would secure the government handedly. On 22 May, BBC News reported that with 80% of the votes counted, the Liberals also have won a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives. The turmoil of the past 12 years was not enough to knock the Liberals from power, and these results indicate Australian citizens are focused on the economy, and an opposition to the taxes proposed by the Labor coalition.
The Liberal-National coalition’s surprising victory elicited mixed responses across the nation. Aljazeera reported that Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the win a miracle and said, “tonight is not about me or it’s not about even the Liberal party. Tonight is about every single Australian who depends on their government to put them first.” Josh Frydenberg, treasurer and second-in-command to Morrison, claimed that “the economic choice at this election was at the heart of the minds of Australian voters.” However, not all conservatives were celebrating. According to Daily Sabah, former prime minister Tony Abbott was voted out of a seat he had held for 25 years. Abbott used his loss to highlight the “realignment” he feels is taking place in Australian politics. The Labor coalition vocalized their negative emotions following the election. Aljazeera noted the Labor leader, Shorten, told his supporters that it was “obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government,” but that his followers should “carry on the fight.”
The turmoil in Australia is an interesting issue. Normally, when a certain political party or coalition experiences the amount of internal conflict that the conservative Liberals have in Australia, the next election hands the government over to their opposition. However, the Labor coalition’s pitch to solve the chaos did not win them the election. Instead, Australia’s citizens turned away from the Labor coalition and its threats of increased taxes. It is important to note that the election was close, and polls had shown Labor winning. The country now stands divided. A conservative government remains in power, but there is a clear surge of Labor resistance. This is an eerie echo of the political climate in the United States following the 2016 elections. Like in Australia, the conservative, or Republican, party was expected to lose the election due to turmoil within the party and a polarizing leader, but much like the Labor coalition, the Democrats were unable to rally Americans behind their policies and ended up losing the election. This put a conservative government in charge but sparked major conflict between the two parties in America. Australia must be careful not to let this election create a response from the public that will create division and unrest within the country. The best way to do this is to have the losing coalition’s leaders acknowledge their respect for the new government and hope their supporters follow.
This election has come after a time of great turmoil in Australian politics. Aljazeera claims that there have been six Prime Minister changes over the past 12 years. Most of these changes are the result of internal fighting within the Liberal coalition. Bloomberg claims that the turmoil began with some changes within the Labor coalition in 2007. By 2013, the Liberal-National coalition took over. From 2013 until the election this May, the Liberals replaced the Prime Minister two times over several years of squabbling. All of this change has led to great instability within the political realm in Australia. In December of 2018, new policies within both coalitions were enacted to make it harder to out leaders and hopefully bring some stability to the country.
Unfortunately, times of political change are always unstable. While differing political opinions are important and encouraged, they tend to create conflict. This is evident in the hateful, aggressive tones of America today. Australia has been experiencing political unrest and just completed a close, emotional election. Now it must find a way to unite citizens and stabilize the government, or it will face potentially violent conflict in the future. Leaders must now step up and preach respect and tolerance, rather than encouraging the mobilization of resistance groups and struggle.