Australia’s opposition leader has urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to resign after a cliff-hanger election failed to deliver a clear winner.
“I think he should quit,” said Labor Party leader Bill Shorten. “He’s delivered instability.”
Saturday’s federal election remains too close to call and the result will not be known until at least Tuesday.
The PM said he has “every confidence” his conservative coalition will be able to form a majority government.
Australia faces the prospect of a “hung parliament” after neither of the two main parties reached the 76-seat quota required to form a government.
According to the Australian Electoral Commission, the vote tallies show that in the contest for the 150 lower house seats:
• the ruling conservative coalition has won 67 seats;
• the center-left Labor Party has won 71 seats;
• a total of six seats have gone to independents and minor parties;
• and six seats remain in doubt.
During the government’s re-election campaign, Mr Turnbull campaigned on a “jobs and growth” slogan and, in the final week, added two words: “stable government”.
According to the Labor Party leader, the prime minister failed to deliver the stability he had promised.
“Mr Turnbull tried to capitalise on the Brexit vote and say because of what happened in England that you had to vote for him in Australia,” Mr Shorten said.
“He’s Brexited himself. This guy’s like the David Cameron of the southern hemisphere.”
Australia has had five prime ministers in the past six years. Despite the poor showing during the coalition’s re-election campaign, Mr Turnbull is looking to avoid adding to that tally.
The prime minister on Sunday called for the Liberal Party to remain calm.
“I can promise all Australians that we will dedicate our efforts to ensuring that the state of new Parliament is resolved without division or rancour,” he said.
Senator Cory Bernardi, from the right-wing of the ruling Liberal Party, said that Mr Turnbull and campaign strategists “need to be held to account”.
“I think in the end he should be asking himself if he has done the Liberal Party a service or a disservice,” he said.
“The broader picture and the question we’ve got to ask ourselves is how did we get to a circumstance where we had a significant majority in the House of Representatives and now the best option is perhaps to form minority government.”
Analysts predict that Mr Turnbull’s coalition will form an administration working closely with crossbenchers to pass legislation.
Labor Party stalwart Anthony Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Australia’s major political parties needed to engage more with voters.
“I think there’s a sense of alienation from mainstream politics that allows for populist parties… to be able to present simplistic answers to what can be very complex problems,” he said.
“We need to communicate using the media that people listen to. We need to listen to the issues that young people in particular are talking to us about.”