Australia to go to the polls on 2nd July
The Australian general election has been confirmed for 2nd July 2016. That means that the date is some five months earlier than it need have been. However, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull used a constitutional mechanism that if the Senate twice rejects a piece of legislation passed by the lower house then an election can be called. On 18th April the Senate rejected the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) bill for a second time, giving the prime minister the excuse he needed to call an election.
The Prime Minister also used a narrow window of opportunity to call for a double dissolution which means that on 2nd July both the 150 seat lower house, the House of Representatives, and the 76 seat upper house or Senate will be elected in full.
In the 2013 general election the centre-right Liberal/National Coalition, led by Tony Abbott, won an additional 18 seats to take 90 seats and a majority in the lower house. The ruling centre-left Australian Labor Party (ALP) led by Prime Minister Tony Rudd dropped 17 seats to 55 seats and were forced into opposition. The Australian Greens, Palmer United Party and Katter’s Australian Party all took one seat and Independents won two seats.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott was ousted from his post in a party coup in September 2015 as opinion polls showed a strong decline in support for the Coalition. He was replaced by Malcolm Turnbull and at first there was a sharp increase in support for the Coalition, but since February this year that support has declined sharply once more.
Opinion polls for the Two-Party-Preferred vote (TPP), the best indication of support, suggests that the Coalition and ALP are neck and neck on 50% support each. In the Primary vote the Coalition gets 42% with the ALP on 36% and Greens on 11% with others taking the balance.
This campaign will be one of the longest held but, if the Canadian experience last year is anything to go by, that does not guarantee success for the incumbent Coalition.