Australians voted in favor of a leftist government Saturday, stripping the center-Right party of its power for the first time in nine years.
Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese of the leftist Labor Party will be sworn in after current Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded defeat, the Associated Press reported.
“Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he quickly conceded defeat despite millions of votes yet to be counted because an Australian leader must attend a Tokyo summit on Tuesday with U.S. President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the AP explained.
The latest counts show the Labor Party holding 72 of the 151-seat House of Representatives compared to 55 seats controlled by the center-Right Liberal Party, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Labor Party would need four more seats to gain a majority, allowing them to govern without needing to ally with minority-party or independent representatives.
Australians have increasingly supported more government action on climate change, even in conservative areas, giving Labor Party and Independent candidates an edge in the election over conservatives, the Journal explained. Inflation also played a key part in the election among urban and suburban voters, who ultimately decided on Left-leaning candidates to handle the issue.
To fight inflation and climate change, Albanese’s Labor Party has promised to increase the minimum wage and set a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Albanese has also touted his name and upbringing as evidence he will bring progressive change to the Australian government.
“It says a lot about our great country that a son of a single mom who was a disability pensioner, who grew up in public housing down the road in Camperdown can stand before you tonight as Australia’s prime minister,” Albanese said in a Saturday victory speech.
The newly elected prime minister has said he is the first Australian candidate with a “non-Anglo Celtic name” to run for the office.
“Every parent wants more for the next generation than they had,” Albanese continued. “My mother dreamt of a better life for me. And I hope that my journey in life inspires Australians to reach for the stars.”
Australia’s shift to the Left also comes as its relationship with communist China continues to intensify, the Journal noted. In 2020, Morrison called for an international investigation into COVID-19 and its origins in China. The communist country then placed tariffs on Australian coal, barley, and wine imports while also being accused by the Australian government of shining a laser from one of its navy ships at an Australian surveillance aircraft.
Albanese, like Morrison, has called for tough action on China, but the prime minister-elect argued that his predecessor has not done enough to curb Chinese aggression.
According to the AP, the Labor Party has proposed starting a Pacific defense training to help neighboring countries respond to any potential threats from the Chinese military.