Almost a week after national elections, Australia's two major parties remain locked in a tight battle to form a new government. The vote resulted in the country's first hung parliament since 1940.
Australia's political deadlock shows no sign of being resolved quickly. Neither the governing Labor party nor the Liberal-National opposition secured a majority in parliament in last Saturday's election.
Both need the support of a Green lawmaker and four independents. Three independents have issued demands, which include a cost analysis of the campaign promises of the main parties. Labor has agreed to have its policies scrutinized, while the conservative leader, Tony Abbott has been less forthcoming. He argues that bureaucrats could not fully understand the details of his spending plans.
Abbott, however, has grudgingly agreed to have his campaign platform audited. His reluctance fueled speculation that the conservatives want another election to try to win a decisive mandate.
"Mr. Abbott needs to be very clear about this and I think he should make it clear that he is not and does not want to have another election but is committed to a three-year term of government whether it's his government or a Gillard government," said Senator Bob Brown, the Green party leader.
Political analysts say that if neither Labor nor the opposition secures an alliance with minority lawmakers, Australia will be forced to hold another election.
The various groups have begun talks, which are expected to continue into next week, and possibly beyond.
The Australian Electoral Commission says with more than 80 percent of the vote counted, Labor is likely to hold 72 seats in the lower chamber, while the opposition is on track to win 73 seats. To form a majority government, a party needs 76 seats.
Australia's last hung parliament was in 1940, although there have been minority governments in the states more recently.