What’s next?

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Australia’s two major parties have so far failed to win a majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives to rule outright after national elections on Saturday, with a result not likely for several days.

Here are some facts on the current situation:

What happens next?

The Australian Electoral Commission has counted less than 80 per cent of the ballots. Millions of postal and absentee votes are still being processed, with counting to re-commence tomorrow after they are packaged up and returned to each electoral district. This is the earliest a result could emerge, but it may take weeks.

If neither of the two main players — the Liberal/National coalition or Labor — wins 76 or more lower house seats, there will be a hung Parliament.

Hung Parliament

It is where no single political party has a majority in the lower House of Representatives. This last occurred in 2010 when the centre-left Labor party of Julia Gillard formed the first minority government since World War II supported by independents. Experts say hung Parliaments can be brittle and sometimes do not last the three-year full term. The prospect of a hung Parliament has shone a spotlight on potential kingmakers.

Kingmakers

They are independents and politicians from minor parties who have won lower house seats and whose support may be needed for a government to be formed. The government is likely to offer deals to form an alliance or offer support for their minority agendas to get them onside.

So far, there are five:

Independent MP Bob Katter, a maverick rural politician who supported the Liberal/National coalition when they were in opposition in 2010 and is open to working with them again.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon, who recently established his own party, secured a seat through candidate Rebekha Sharkie. Xenophon is a centrist and anti-gambling campaigner and has said he was open to negotiation.

The Greens have one representative in Adam Bandt and could potentially have another. The Liberals and Labor have previously ruled out forming a multi-party government with them, but they may now have no choice.

Independents Cathy McGowan, a farmer and former teacher, and Andrew Wilkie, a ex-intelligence officer, have declared they have no intention of helping any of the major players form government.

Situation in Senate

A “double-dissolution” poll was called to force all senators to face election at the same time after gridlock in the upper house when the government tried to pass legislation.

Small parties are likely to hold the balance of power with the Greens set to get nine seats, up to three for Xenophon’s party, and anti-immigration firebrand Pauline Hanson on track to win between two and four seats. — AFP