Federal Election 2016: How could this all play out?

The election last Saturday produced not just a remarkably even number of seats between the major parties but a large number of very close contests, leading to a government on the edge.

As it stands, the Coalition is on 70 seats and the Labor Party 67, with one Greens MP, one Katter Party MP and two independents.

Eight seats hang in the balance, and the results that trickle in over the next couple of days will decide if it is possible for Malcolm Turnbull or Bill Shorten to form a government.

The electoral commission has to get postal votes, absentee votes and other declaration votes back to their home electorates for counting.

If neither side gets to the magic number of seats needed to govern in their own right, 76, the nation's fortunes rest on the ability of Mr Turnbull or Mr Shorten to govern with the support of a handful of crossbenchers.

 

Where are the seats in doubt?

It all comes down to the final eight seats. In most of those, the parties are currently split by less than 1 per cent of the vote. In a number of cases it's less than 100 votes difference.

Seats in doubt
Capricornia
Chisholm
Cowan
Dunkley
Forde
Gilmore
Herbert
Hindmarsh

 

As with past elections, Queensland is the focus. Three of the eight seats in doubt are in the Sunshine State, all previously Coalition territory.

Let's start in the north and head south.

The Townsville seat of Herbert hangs in the balance, with Labor's Cathy O'Toole also ahead of the LNP's Ewen Jones (50.5 per cent).

In Capricornia (Central Queensland), Michelle Landry has been challenged by the ALP's Leisa Neaton. So far, Ms Neaton has achieved a 1.5 per cent swing away from Ms Landry, and is ahead in the count (50.7 per cent).

In Forde, on the city's southern outskirts, Bert Van Manen has seen his 4.4 per cent margin eroded by Labor's Des Hardman, who is ahead in the count by an unbelievably tiny 0.1 per cent.

On the NSW south coast, the Coalition is slightly in front of Labor in the seat of Gilmore (50.2 per cent).

The Victorian seat of Chisholm is another that is too close to call, but the Liberal candidate Julia Banks is ahead of the Labor Party by 0.3 per cent. If she succeeds, it would be the only Coalition gain of the 2016 election, other than Clive Palmer Seat of Fairfax, which he vacated before the election.

On Melbourne's outskirts, the Liberal Party has suffered a swing against it of more than 5 per cent in Dunkley following the retirement of Bruce Billson, but is currently ahead by 0.3 per cent.

South Australia also provided cliffhanger, with Labor is currently slightly ahead in Hindmarsh (Adelaide's west).

And WA is not left out, with the Perth seat of Cowan delivering a swing against the Liberals to put Labor in front by 0.6 per cent.

How will they fall?

The electoral commission has counted more than 11 million votes but is still in the process of moving and counting absentee, interstate and postal votes.

The usual assumption is that postal votes favour the Coalition, but this election is unusual in that it was held in winter, while much of the country was on school holidays, meaning the old assumptions might not apply.

With more than 20 per cent of the votes to be counted in many of the undecided seats, it is too early to say which way they will fall.

But we can imagine a few scenarios, and what they would mean for the future of the Parliament.

 

1. The Coalition claws back some ground in postal votes

If the late counting does favour the Coalition, they could claw back a couple of the seats in doubt.

Small Coalition swing include:
Capricornia
Chisholm
Cowan
Dunkley
Forde
Gilmore
Herbert
Hindmarsh

The seats with a current margin towards Labor of less than 0.5 per cent are Hindmarsh and Forde.

If those seats go towards the Liberal Party, and the other seats fall the way they are currently heading, we end up with Coalition 75, Labor 70, 1 NXT, 1 Green, 1 Katter and 2 independents.

 

2. Postal votes heavily favour the Liberal Party

The only avenue for the Liberal Party to form a majority government is if they win 6 of the 8 seats currently undecided, which would mean reversing the Labor Party's lead in three seats.

Large Coalition swing include:
Capricornia
Chisholm
Cowan
Dunkley
Forde
Gilmore
Herbert
Hindmarsh

 

It's a big ask. PM Malcolm Turnbull says he remains quietly confident, but he started ringing the crossbenchers at the weekend.

If they can pull it off, it would look like: 76 Coalition, 69 Labor, 1 NXT, 1 Green, 1 Katter, and 2 independents.

 

3. The current leaders go on to win in each seat

If all the seats in doubt fall according to who is currently in the lead, the Coalition would finish with 73, Labor 72, 1 NXT, 1 Green, 1 Katter and 2 independents.

Current predictions includes :
Capricornia
Chisholm
Cowan
Dunkley
Forde
Gilmore
Herbert
Hindmarsh

That would mean a hung parliament, where Malcolm Turnbull would have the first call in trying to form a minority government.

 

Could the Coalition form minority government then?

If the seats fall the way they are currently heading, Malcolm Turnbull would need the support of three crossbenchers to get to 76 votes.

 
Rebekha Sharkie - NXT
 
Bob Katter - KAP
 
Cathy McGowan - IND
 
Andrew Wilkie  - IND

Senator Nick Xenophon has said he is open to making a deal with either side of politics.

If Mr Turnbull can get Senator Xenophon on board, he would then look to the others to make up the final vote he'd need.

Independents Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan have already said they are not open to making a deal, leaving Bob Katter and the Greens' Adam Bandt.

Out of those, only Bob Katter would be likely to support a Coalition government, which would put them one short of a majority.

That means the Coalition are banking on a swing from postal votes to get them over line.

 

How could Labor form government?

If the Coalition cannot get to the 76 votes, Labor can try.

They have said they are unlikely to be able to form a majority government.

They have already ruled out a formal deal with the Greens, but could probably rely on Mr Bandt's vote in a confidence motion.

 
Rebekha Sharkie - NXT
 
Adam Bandt - GRN
 
Cathy McGowan -IND
 
Andrew Wilkie - IND

A deal with the NXT MP is possible, but Bob Katter is unlikely to vote Labor, meaning Bill Shorten would need the vote of both of the two independents who have said they will not do deals.

Cathy McGowan's seat of Indi is traditionally a Liberal seat, meaning she is unlikely to support a Labor government, especially after the experience of Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott in the 2010 hung Parliament.

If neither Labor nor the Coalition can cobble together a workable minority government, we could indeed be heading back to the polls earlier than any of us would have hoped.

Source: ABC News

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