Aussie Labor lawmakers say party has lost election

Abbottvictory for the Liberal Party-led coalition would come despite an apparent lack of overwhelming enthusiasm for opposition leader Tony Abbott. (Reuters)

Two senior lawmakers in Australia's ruling Labor Party said their party had lost the national election Saturday, backing analysts and exit polls, and signaling a sweeping victory for the conservative opposition was all but certain.

A victory for the Liberal Party-led coalition would come despite an apparent lack of overwhelming enthusiasm for opposition leader Tony Abbott, and would mean an end to six years of rule by the center-left Labor Party, which has been marred by relentless infighting that left the public frustrated and disillusioned. Once popular Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's party has also struggled to win over voters angered by a deeply unpopular tax on carbon emissions that many blame for steep increases in power bills.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television that after 13 percent of the votes had been counted, her government's loss was no longer in doubt.

"I am a cautious person by nature, but I think that it's pretty clear it's a matter of the size of the victory'' for the coalition," Plibersek said.

Defense Minister Stephen Smith echoed that sentiment, saying on ABC:Clearly, we've lost.'' Plibersek's and Smith's concessions backed analysts and meant a coalition victory was a near certainty. Opinion polls and an early exit poll all predicted a resounding Liberal win.

A Sky News exit poll conducted by Sydney-based market researcher Newspoll showed the coalition was leading Labor 53 percent to 47 percent, and was expected to win 97 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives. The poll results, unveiled 90 minutes before voting closed on Australia's east coast, were based on 1,000 interviews with voters in Labor swing seats across New South Wales and Queensland states. The poll did not give a margin of error.

An hour after polls closed on the east coast, Australian Broadcasting Corp. election analyst Antony Green said early counting suggested that Labor had been ousted. Early analysis of the results showed a shift toward the conservatives, he said, with the coalition appearing to have 75 seats half the 150 seats in the House of Representatives. Labor appeared to have 42.

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