Sydney, Australia, May 9 (EFE).- Early voting began in Australia on Monday ahead of the May 21 general elections, with surveys pegging the opposition Labor Party as the favorite.
The Australian Electoral Commission has made some 550 centers operational nationwide for those unable to cast their votes on the election day or using postal ballots.
Voting in Australia is compulsory. Those who fail to vote are subject to a fine of between AU$20 ($14 US) for first-time offenders and AU$180 ($126) for repeat offenders.
The last two surveys have indicated that the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, will slightly outperform Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition in these elections, centered around the high cost of living, climate change, and national security.
The Newspoll opinion survey conducted last week and published by The Australian newspaper on Monday shows that Labor is ahead of the coalition by 54 percent to 46 percent.
Meanwhile, the Ipsos poll published in the Australian Financial Review on Monday expands Labor’s lead to 57 percent over the government’s 43 percent.
Morrison has vowed to turn the polls around and put up a fight in the two remaining weeks of the election campaign. He has been in power since 2013.
“Voters are turning up to vote in pre-poll right now. They are making a choice right now and over the course of this campaign, people are making assessments and so many, as we are seeing, are still to make a decision over the next couple of weeks,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
The prime minister hopes to shore up support by focusing his campaign on economic management to pull off a repeat of 2019 when the coalition achieved a majority in parliament.
Albanese said on Monday that Australia “can’t afford three more years of the same, with a government that won’t acknowledge the problems that are there, let alone provide solutions for it.”
Some 17 million Australians are eligible to vote in the May 21 elections in which the 151 seats in the lower house of parliament and 40 of the 76 senator seats will be at stake.
The House of Representatives serves a three-year term, while the Senate has six years.
Australians will be voting to elect from more than 1,200 contestants for the House of Representatives and 421 for the Senate.
Postal votes could delay the results if they are very close. EFE