Australians head to polls in hotly contested federal election

Sydney, Australia, May 21 (EFE).- More than 7,000 polling stations opened on Saturday for Australians to elect the country’s prime minister for the next three years, in what is expected to be a tight race.

According to the latest polls, the opposition Labor Party and its leader Anthony Albanese maintain slight advantages over the ruling Liberal-National coalition and its incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is seeking re-election.

East coast states were the first to open their polling booths, at 8 am local time, before the rest of the country across three time zones. They plan to close at 6 pm.

Voting is compulsory for more than 17.2 million Australians to elect the 151 representatives of the Lower House and 40 of the 76 senators.

More than 4.6 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 has 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.

The results are expected Saturday night, although they may be delayed if the vote count is very close. EFE


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