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Opposition Wins in Australia National Election

Australia's conservative opposition swept to power Saturday in a landslide election victory, ending six years of turbulent Labor Party rule.

Observers say the win for Tony Abbott's opposition Liberal-National coalition reflects frustrations by Australians with Labor Party infighting and problems with the nation's economy. Abbott, on Saturday, declared Australia "under new management."

"I now look forward to forming a government that is competent, that is trustworthy, and which purposefully and steadfastly and methodically sets about delivering on our commitments to you, the Australian people."

The election was held just three months after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ousted Australia's first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, in a party leadership challenge intended to better position Labor for the national vote.

But with more than 95 percent of the vote counted, the Australian Electoral Commission showed the Liberal/National coalition with 88 seats in the 150-member House of Representatives to Labor's 57.

Mr. Rudd conceded defeat Saturday, saying he had given the election his all.

"A short time ago, I telephoned Tony Abbott to concede defeat at these national elections. (Crowd booing, Rudd pausing) As prime minister of Australia I wish him well now in the high office of prime minister of this country. Therese and I wish he, Margie and their family well in coping with the stresses and strains of high office that lie ahead. We know a little bit of what that is like.''

Rudd also announced that he would step down as Labor leader.

The campaign had been dominated by concerns about the economy, asylum seekers and climate change.

Unemployment in Australia has been creeping upward, and both parties tried to convince voters that they can guarantee future economic prosperity.

Both candidates had also proposed tough immigration policies to discourage asylum seekers from sailing into Australian waters to claim shelter.

But Mr. Abbott has promised that his government's first action will be to repeal an unpopular tax on the country's biggest polluters, which he blames for pushing up domestic power bills.

Voting is compulsory in Australia. More than 14 million people are listed on electoral rolls, but authorities estimate about a half-million 18- to 24-year-old Australians have never registered to vote, suggesting widespread apathy among young people about domestic politics.

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