Opposition leader Bill Shorten has conceded defeat in Australia's national elections. The Liberal Party will now be tasked with forming a new government under the direction of incumbent Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The counting of ballots continued in the tight race despite Bill Shorten, leader of the Labor Party, conceding defeat on Sunday.
Shorten said the ruling coalition government under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would gain enough seats to remain in power.
"It is clear that Mr Turnbull and his coalition will form a government," Bill Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.
"So I have spoken to Mr Turnbull earlier this afternoon to congratulate him and [his wife] Lucy and to wish them my very best."
The announcement came eight days after voters had gone to the polls.
Hung parliament or slight majority
Both Turnbull's ruling Liberal/National coalition and Labor remained short of the 76 seats needed to claim a majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives, as the counting of votes continued.
The incumbent Liberal/National government coalition managed to win 74 seats in parliament, but was expected to succeed in at least two of the five seats that remained in doubt, giving Turnbull the support needed to form a majority government. Turnbull had also received support from three independent MPs, guaranteeing he could form a minority government even if he did not win all 76 seats needed.
"Whether it is a minority government or majority government with one or two seats, it is clear they will form the government," Shorten remarked.
The opposition Labor Party has secured 69 seats so far, falling short of the seats needed to govern in Canberra even with the support of independent candidates.
Despite claiming victory in the contested elections, Turnbull is likely to face a difficult task in forming and leading a new government. He lost the government's comfortable majority in the House of Representatives after his campaign failed to resonate with voters. His strategy of calling early elections to cement his position nearly failed, with the poll being hotly contested.
Turnbull had managed to get the top position only after a leadership contest within his party, ousting the then-leader of the Liberal Party, Tony Abbott, in September 2015. Turnbull is the fourth Australian prime minister in three years, indicating internal rifts within political parties and uncertainty among voters. This ongoing turbulence has already prompted rating agency Standard & Poor's to downgrade Australia's AAA credit rating from "stable" to "negative."
ss/tj (AFP, AP, Reuters)