Australia's conservative ruling coalition and opposition were running neck and neck in vote counting after elections Saturday, and neither side seemed to be able to form a majority government.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said very early Sunday morning that he had "every confidence" his ruling conservative party won the national election and that he would be able to form a coalition government.
Speaking to supporters late Saturday night, opposition leader Bill Shorten sounded optimistic about his party's chances. He said Turnbull's conservative coalition government had failed to deliver the economic reform and steady leadership Australians want.
Parties need to hold at least 76 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives in order to form a majority government.
As of late Saturday night local time, the Australian Electoral Commission said the ruling conservative coalition was leading with 71 seats. The center-left Labor Party had 68 seats, and minor parties or independents had five seats. Results for another six seats were unclear.
If neither group earns a majority of seats in the House, both Labor and the coalition will be forced to try to forge alliances with independent lawmakers to form a minority government.
Since voting in Australia is compulsory, Australians went to the polls in large numbers Saturday in a close federal election shaken by a number of minor parties, including a candidate from the Greens and other independent parties.
While climate change, immigration and education were key issues of the electoral campaign, the economy has been the determining factor. Britain’s decision to leave the European Union created great anxiety in Australia, and political leaders put economic security at the heart of their election campaigns.