Australian election: Voters are choosing between Morrison and Albany

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SYDNEY – Australians are set to go to the polls on Saturday to face a tough choice for prime minister in a sunny style with a militant conservative incumbent and a liberal promise.

Polls suggest that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s tactical approach to governance has exhausted Australians, hampering his Liberal-National Coalition as it aims to reach power for a decade. Morrison, who took charge in 2018, recently admitted to rubbing in some wrong way. He compares himself to a “bulldozer.”

His opponent, Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese, described himself as a “builder” who would raise wages and expand opportunities. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

“I don’t think the Albanians have an enthusiastic embrace,” said Paul Strangio, a political historian at Monash University. “But he has been able to convince voters that he is not a threat, he represents safe, cautious change and is therefore a tolerable alternative.”

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Analysts say the election is likely to be closer Say, and end up in a hanging parliament, where no major party can gain a majority and independent or smaller party candidates have to appear in court to form a government.

All 151 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs The coalition currently holds a one-seat majority in the lower house of parliament. Labor will have to take seven seats to form a government. Elections are also being held in 40 out of 6 seats in the upper house Senate.

The competition comes down to an exciting time. The country of “no worries” has become, well, worried. Australians, generally among the most optimistic people on the planet, are increasingly dissatisfied with their lives and worried about their future, according to a recent poll.

The world’s 13th largest economy is getting stronger, as exemplified by Morrison’s joyous announcement this week that unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in half a century. But inflation, equally strong, means many Australians are effectively earning less day by day.

Australia has one of the highest per capita coronavirus infections in the world. So many people are getting sick that in the run-up to the election, the government has decided to increase the number of phone votes for isolated people. However, the epidemic has rarely been seen in publicity.

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Mark Kenny, professor of politics at the Australian National University, describes the prevailing mood. “Fatigue, uncertainty, some fear.”

“Things like a growing strong China, the war in Ukraine, the crisis of life,” he said. Morrison “has tried to put these things to use and to package them into an environment of total uncertainty that will only add up if you change government.”

But these warnings against change do not seem to be gaining traction. The poll consistently found Labor to be leading the election.

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A year ago, Morrison, 54, was seen heading for re-election for Australia’s initial success in keeping the coronavirus at bay. But a slow vaccine rollout and the outbreak of Delta and Omicron variants have sparked renewed criticism of its crisis management – an issue that first came to light when Morrison went on vacation during the devastating Bush fires in 2019 and 2020.

When asked about his absence, his answer – “I’m a hose, mate” – eats into the criticism that Morrison is slow to act but quick to avoid blame. The allegations resurfaced in March, when the prime minister waited more than a week for declaring a state of emergency for the historic floods. When he visited a hard-hit town, the trip was short, delayed and staged to avoid protesters.

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The Prime Minister also has a problem with credibility. Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron accused Morrison of lying about a canceled submarine deal. Then came a storm of attacks from within the coalition, in which leaked text messages described him as a “terrible man” and a “complete psycho.” Analysts say the friendly fire appears to have punctured his personality as a straight-shooting suburban dad.

“Morrison’s distrust has become a clear theme of this election campaign,” Strangio said.

Morrison’s deputy, national leader Bernabe Joyce, tried to protect the prime minister this month by comparing him to a dentist.

“You don’t have to choose your dentist,” Joyce said. “You just have to believe they are worthy. Because when they get that drill in your face, you want to make sure they hit the right tooth. You don’t want it with your tongue or cheeks. “

Yet Joyce’s own leaked texts show that he called Morrison “a liar and a liar.”

Skomo, known here as the prime minister, is a former marketing executive who, three years ago, rejected the election out of fear of Labor’s then-ambitious agenda.

Shawn Kelly, a former Labor adviser who has written a book about Morrison, a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, says he is “incredibly adept at making pictures and using words to achieve his political goals.” “What has happened in the last three years is that people are starting to see it.”

Like Joe Biden in the 2020 U.S. election, the 59-year-old Albanese looks happy to be elected to a referendum on his divisive opponent, Strangio said. And like Biden, he emphasizes empathy and unity.

“She’s the right foil for Morrison,” Strangio said. “Albanese presents itself as a puppy that will work, that will take responsibility.”

The Labor leader has run a small-minded campaign, pushing back some of his party’s more divisive policies – such as reducing carbon emissions – and avoiding others to avoid a recurrence of labor shock losses in 2019. This has led to allegations that Albo, he said, lacks ambition. But that leaves little to be desired of Morrison.

“Morrison always defines himself against his opponents,” Kelly said. Albany’s strategy to the prime minister is “nothing to oppose, nothing to campaign against.”

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But he also pretended to approach A risk for Albanians, who started the race as little-known candidates and struggled to introduce themselves to voters.

Like Morrison, Albanese spent most of his six-week campaign talking about the economy. He ran into an early question of unemployment but slowly found his foot – and his voice. In recent weeks, Albanians have called for a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage – a move Morrison says would hurt small business owners.

Rory Medcalf, head of the College of National Security at the Australian National University, said the election was unlikely to change Australia’s close ties with the United States. Washington sees Canberra as an important ally in its retreat against China. Last year’s AUKUS deal – a landmark deal for the United States and the United Kingdom to supply nuclear-powered submarines to Australia – strengthened the alliance. Albanian supports the agreement. When US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Australia in February, he promised to meet with both Morrison and the Leader of the Opposition.

Morrison was seen retreating on the eve of the election, after he suggested changing his “bulldozer” approach a few weeks ago. Asked what he would change, the prime minister refused to answer, then reprimanded the reporter.

“You’re sounding like a bit of a bulldozer,” he said.

Frances Vinal of Melbourne contributed to this report.

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