Voters head to the polls as the gap between the two parties narrows

Australians head to the polls on Saturday to vote in a national election that shows the opposition leading in opinion polls.

The Labor Party is narrowly ahead of the ruling Conservative coalition, although a strong presence of climate-focused independents could lead to a hung parliament.

The centre-left Labor party held a decent lead at the start of the campaign after nine years in opposition, but recent polls
showed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s centre-right Liberal-National government closing the gap in the home stretch of a tough six-week campaign.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s centre-left Labor Party is favorite to win its first election since 2007.

But Mr Morrison defied opinion polls in 2019 by leading his coalition to a narrow victory. A victory this time would allow him to obtain a historic fourth mandate.

His coalition holds the narrowest majority – 76 seats in the 151-seat House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form a government.

Explainer: How does the Australian election work and who are the ones to watch in 2022?

The two leaders will campaign in Melbourne on Saturday before casting their ballots in their hometown of Sydney.

The first polling stations will close on the east coast of the country at 6 p.m. local time (0800 GMT). The west coast is two hours behind.

Due to the pandemic, more than 48% of australia 17 million voters voted early or requested mail-in votes, which will likely slow the count.

On Friday, the government changed regulations to allow people recently infected with COVID-19 to vote by phone.

Voting is compulsory for adult citizens and 92% of registered voters voted in the last election.