(Update 2: alters headline, lede, adds provisional results, Morrison’s remarks)
Sydney, Australia, May 21 (EFE).- Anthony Albanese will be Australia’s next prime minister after the Labor Party defeated Scott Morrison’s ruling Liberal–National Coalition in federal elections on Saturday, according to exit polls.
The Australian Electoral Commission’s projections show Labor winning 74 seats – three shy of the absolute majority – with 55 going to the Liberal-National Coalition, which had been in power since 2013.
Morrison congratulated Albanese as he conceded defeat in Sydney.
“I’ve always believed in Australians and their judgment, and I’ve always been prepared to accept their verdicts,” he said.
“And tonight, they have delivered their verdict, and I congratulate Anthony Albanese, and the Labor Party, and I wish him and his government all the very best,” he added.
Albanese thanked Morrison for his service, and said he was “honored to be given the opportunity to serve” as prime minister.
“Tonight the Australian people have voted for change. I am humbled by this victory,” he said.
According to the official provisional calculation, with 66 percent of the votes counted, the Green Party obtained one seat, while the next House of Representatives will have 10 independent lawmakers.
If these projections are confirmed, Labor would return to power after nine years, although it will have to form a coalition to govern.
Voting is compulsory for more than 17.2 million Australians to elect 151 representatives of the Lower House and 40 of 76 senators.
More than 5.5 million people cast their vote in advance, while another 2.7 million applied for postal voting. The authorities impose a fine of AU$20 ($14) for those who fail to cast their vote.
The electoral campaign had revolved mainly around the economy and the rise in the cost of living, as a result of 5.1 percent inflation – the highest in decades, in addition to climate change and foreign policy. EFE