Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison won re-election on Saturday, stunning pollsters who had anticipated his defeat for several months. Morrison championed working-class economic stability during his campaign, and his victory is part of a populist trend, which now stretches across the U.S., Brazil, Hungary and Italy.
At his victory party in Sydney, Morrison said, “Tonight is about every single Australian who depends on their government to put them first. And that is exactly what we are going to do.”
In his speech, Morrison also paid tribute to “the quiet Australians” who voted for his coalition. “It has been those Australians who have worked hard every day, they have their dreams, they have their aspirations, to get a job, to get an apprenticeship, to start a business, to meet someone amazing,” he said. “To start a family, to buy a home, to work hard and provide the best you can for your kids. To save for your retirement. These are the quiet Australians who have won a great victory tonight!”
Top issues in the Australian election included climate change, immigration, jobs and the economy. Morrison’s coalition of Liberal and National Parties maintained seats in contested suburbs, while also picking up support across Australia’s countryside. In the northeastern state of Queensland, the site of a controversial proposal to build a coal mine, several Liberal Party candidates also won, signifying that jobs are of more importance to Australian voters there than environmental concerns. If the Adani coal mine is built in Queensland, it will be one of the largest in the world.
In a suburb of Sydney, however, the Liberal Party did suffer a setback. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott lost his race there, where voters are demanding action on climate change.
In his concession speech, Abbott said, “It’s clear that in what might be described as ‘working seats,’ we are doing so much better. It’s also clear that in at least some of what might be described as ‘wealthy seats,’ we are doing it tough, and the Green left is doing better.”
Morrison is an evangelical Christian, who has professed admiration for President Trump. During his campaign he promised voters he would lower energy prices, and cut costs for first-time homeowners.
In 2013, as immigration minister, Morrison advocated denying asylum seekers arriving by sea the right to apply for settlement in Australia.
Morrison’s opponent, Bill Shorten, the leader of the Labor Party, promised “real action” on climate change and the economy. On Saturday night he conceded defeat. “I know you’re all hurting,” he told supporters in Melbourne. “And I am, too.”