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Australian Conservatives Close to Parliamentary Victory

FILE - Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addresses party supporters during a rally in Sydney, July 3, 2016.

Australia's ruling conservative government is inching closer to keeping a razor-thin hold on power after a surprisingly close parliamentary election.

An analysis by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Liberal/National coalition is on track to win 73 seats in the House of Representatives, three seats shy of the total needed to form a majority government.

Turnbull narrowed that margin Thursday after traveling to Brisbane and securing a pledge from independent lawmaker Bob Katter to support the coalition. Katter told reporters after the meeting he made his decision "with no great enthusiasm," doing so only to prevent Australians from going through another election. "I maintain my right to move at any point of time in another direction," he added.

ABC says the opposition Labor party has won 66 seats, while four independents and a minor party candidate have been elected. Six other seats are still too close to call.

Labor Party leader Bill Shorten acknowledged that Prime Minister Turnbull would return to office, but is doing so "with a diminished authority, diminished mandate and a very divided political party."

The deadlock from last Saturday's vote has led global ratings agency Standard and Poor's to downgrade Australia's coveted AAA credit rating from "stable" to "negative."