Australian Labor Party Wins Victoria Elections in Landslide

Premier Daniel Andrews (left), whose Labor party won a stable majority in Victoria’s November 24 election

Premier Daniel Andrews (left), whose Labor party won a stable majority in Victoria’s November 24 election

Addressing a crowd of hundreds of campaign volunteers, staff members, and supporters at an election night gathering in Melbourne, the capital of the southeastern state of Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews declared a landslide victory for the Australian Labor Party only a few hours after the polls closed on November 24, the Age reported. 

According to Perth Now, three recent opinion polls all predicted the incumbent Labor government’s re-election to a second term. Labor’s projected margin of victory, however, widened by an unexpectedly large degree as Victorians cast their final votes. 

Exit polls showed the center-left Labor party as swinging to lead the conservative Liberal-National coalition by as much as 55 percent to 45 percent. Reuters and the Age further noted that while Labor entered the election with a minimum one-seat majority in the 88-seat Legislative Assembly, Victoria’s lower house of Parliament, the party is now on track to capture at least six new seats, giving it a much more stable majority. 

The provisioned results from the Victorian Electoral Commission reveal that even Brighton, a long-standing Liberal stronghold, came within 1,000 votes of electing its very first Labor representative: Declan Martin, a nineteen-year-old university student. 

Antony Green, an election analyst for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), described these swings as “remarkable,” calling the night in favor of Labor less than ninety minutes after the vote count began. 

According to the Age, the opposition also recognized the scale of Labor’s win. At about 9:00pm on election night, Matthew Guy, who served as both the state’s Liberal leader and the leader of the Opposition in Parliament, phoned Andrews to concede defeat and congratulate Andrews on a “stunning night.” 

The Guardian reports that later that night in a concession speech to Liberal supporters, Guy also called for party unity and reiterated the importance of key Liberal campaign issues such as eliminating congestion, lowering the cost of living, and reducing crime.

The Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported that Guy did not make any further major public remarks until November 28, when he released a statement to the media to announce his resignation from party leadership. The Liberal shadow treasurer, Michael O’Brien, and shadow attorney general, John Pesutto, are seen as the two most likely contenders to fill the position.

As for Andrews, he attributed Labor’s victory to voters showing their support for touted Labor initiatives, including more funding for hospitals and schools, a royal commission into the state’s “crumbling” mental health care system, and the multibillion-dollar “biggest infrastructure agenda in road-and-rail” in Victoria’s history, ABC and the Guardian reported.

Some political commentators framed the election as a warning to Australia’s ruling Liberal-National coalition, which has faced instability since ousting former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in August, according to the AAP. Labor’s decisive win in Victoria may foreshadow a similar shift in the upcoming federal election, which is due by May 2019.