Australia: Independents and Greens Hold Balance of Power Following Election

Following the election held over the weekend, Independents and Greens now hold the "balance of power" in the Australian parliament, after voters delivered a stinging rebuke to the major parties in the country's two-party system. From the AFP:
Up to four independents and a new Greens MP looked set to hold the balance of power after Saturday's election ended in a hung parliament with neither Gillard's centre-left Labor Party nor the Liberal/Nationals winning a majority.

As the two-party system that has dominated Australian politics for more than a century rocks precariously, Gillard and conservative rival Abbott were making urgent overtures to the usually ignored minor representatives.

The Australian's Greens gains have already been documented at Wikipedia:
the Green vote in the Senate rose clear above ten percent, with Australian Broadcasting Corporation provisional results[26] giving the Greens a Senate seat in every state, which would bring the Greens to a total of nine Senators.[27] The Greens also successfully won their first House of Representatives seat at a general election, the seat of Melbourne with candidate Adam Bandt, who will be a crossbencher in the first hung parliament since the 1940 federal election.[28]
The results are widely viewed as a potential death knell for the country's two-party system, echoing comments by Independent Bob Katter, who easily retained his seat in the Parliament. The New Zealand Herald writes:
If there was one overwhelming message for Australia's major parties from Saturday's election, it was that the days of the two-party system were over, Bob Katter told Channel 10 after easily holding his vast north Queensland seat. . . .

He is one of five men being courted as kingmakers following the failure of either Labor or the Coalition to win a majority in the House of Representatives, and thus government.

In the Senate, the Greens will hold the balance of power and the keys to legislation from the Lower House. But it is in the House that the election has hit the major parties hardest.

The next prime minister will be the one who can convince three - probably four - independents, and the Greens first federal MP, to support their bid for minority government.

The Australian election comes on the heels of the UK general election held in May, in which neither major party won an outright majority, also resulting in a so-called "hung parliament" and the empowerment of minor party leader Nick Clegg.

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