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Australian PM ScoMo struggles to hold govt

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday his embattled government would serve out a full term despite the conservative coalition looking set to lose its majority after a voter backlash in a crucial Sydney by-election.The Liberal-National coalition, which has a one-seat parliamentary majority, appeared headed for minority government status after a huge swing in a traditionally safe seat, fuelled by anger over the ousting of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.But despite the Liberal candidate conceding defeat Saturday after high-profile independent Kerryn Phelps captured an apparently unsurmountable lead in the seat of Wentworth, the count has narrowed sharply as postal votes are counted. Phelps’ lead with more than 54 percent under Australia’s voting system — which allocates voters’ second preferences if no candidate secures a majority — shrank Sunday to just 50.61 percent, or 884 votes.While most analysts said it appeared likely Phelps would hold on to the win, Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a more upbeat tone. The prime minister, who must call national elections by mid-May, acknowledged voter anger over political infighting in Canberra but said he was determined to stay on even if the coalition becomes a minority government. “Australian people expect governments to serve their term. We are elected to serve our term and that is what we are going to do,” he said.The by-election in the wealthy seat was triggered after Turnbull, the local MP, resigned after being toppled in a party coup in August.
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