For the first time in almost a decade, Australians have elected a left-wing prime minister, ending nine years of conservative government rule.
59-year-old Anthony Albanese, the leader of the opposition Labor Party, will become the 31st prime minister of Australia after incumbent prime minister Scott Morrison conceded defeat in the country’s general election on Saturday May 21.
Early results showed that Labor had won 72 out of the 76 seats needed to form a government, while Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition had secured 52 seats, and Independents and the Greens held 11, according to projections from the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
One of Australia’s longest serving politicians, Albanese, who has spent 26 years in politics, ran on a campaign of “renewal not revolution.”
“I want to bring Australians together. I want to seek our common purpose and promote unity and optimism, not fear and division,” he said in his victory speech in Sydney.
He has pledged to push for a higher minimum wage and more spending on care for children and the elderly, according to the New York Times.
He and his party have also promised to cut carbon emissions by 43% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, compared to the 26 to 28% reduction promised by the incumbent Liberal-National coalition.
“Tonight, the Australian people have voted for change,” Albanese said. “It says a lot about our great country that the son of a single mom who was a disability pensioner, who grew up in public housing down the road in Camperdown, can stand before you tonight as Australia’s prime minister.
Morrison conceded defeat before the end of Saturday, announcing that he would also step down as the leader of the Liberal party.
Election results also showed a strong swing towards independent and the Australian Greens Party candidates, who were calling for even larger emission cuts; the Greens recorded its best ever election result, according to the Guardian.
“The Greens are on track for our best result ever,” Adam Bandt, the leader of the Greens, said. “People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality.”
While it was too early to call whether Labor could form a majority government by Saturday night, Bandt has said it is willing to talk with Albanese about forming a coalition.
Albanese will be sworn in on Monday May 23, before traveling to Tokyo for a meeting with world leaders on Tuesday.