Voter disillusionment with mainstream politics in Australia's Queensland state left neither major party with enough seats to govern outright, early results showed Sunday, although the governing labour team was hopeful for a win.
Australian politics has become increasingly divisive in recent years, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull narrowly winning federal government last year after a national poll.
The result left him dependent on the support of minor parties and independents and highlighted how their populist agendas have resonated with local voters.
The tight Queensland race between labour and the centre-right Liberal National Party (LNP) left neither with the minimum number of seats -- 47 -- to lead a majority government.
Labor, led by Annastacia Palaszczuk, had 43 seats and the LNP 35 as counting continued Sunday.
One-third of Queenslanders chose not to vote for either major party, according to projections by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Hopes were high for One Nation, created by anti-immigration firebrand Pauline Hanson in Queensland in the 1990s, with expectations it could secure up to 10 seats.
But although the minor party garnered just under 14 percent of the vote statewide, only the northern mining seat of Mirani appeared possibly in its grasp.
Another minor party, the Greens, secured just under 10 percent of the vote and polled well in Queensland's capital Brisbane, but struggled in regional areas.
The ABC's respected election analyst Antony Green described the results as ‘wacky’ and said it was one of the toughest elections he had called in his long career.
Green on Sunday said labour looked likely to retain power, projecting the party could secure 48 seats.
The election is the latest in a series of polls during a tumultuous period for Australian politics.
Turnbull, whose lost his one-seat parliamentary majority earlier this month after two coalition members were forced to resign for holding dual citizenship in violation of the constitution, brushed aside concerns the turmoil influenced Queensland's results.
‘It was a state election fought on state issues, there is no question about that,’ he told reporters in Sydney Sunday.
If labour is returned to power, Palaszczuk will become the first Australian woman in state and federal politics to be elected twice.
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