CANBERRA, Australia — Australians headed to the polls on Saturday in an election that is expected to see the Labor Party ousted from government after six years in power.
Despite the lack of overwhelming enthusiasm for opposition leader Tony Abbott, he seems on track to guide his Liberal Party-led coalition to a victory over a ruling party marred by infighting and a much-maligned carbon tax, with opinion polls giving the coalition a commanding lead.
A poll by Sydney-based market researcher Newspoll published in The Australian newspaper on Saturday showed the coalition was leading Labor 54 percent to 46 percent.
It was based on a random national telephone survey of 2,511 voters over three days this week and had a 2 percentage point margin of error. Newspoll has correctly picked the result of all 56 Australian federal and state elections since 1985.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was once widely beloved by the public, becoming the nation's most popular leader in three decades when he took on the top job in 2007. Now, his party is facing the prospect of an end to its six years in power amid voter frustration over years of party instability and bickering, and widespread hatred of a carbon tax on major polluters.
The carbon tax has long been a thorn in the side of the Labor Party. The previous prime minister, Julia Gillard, broke an election promise and agreed to impose the tax in a bid to form a coalition Labor needed to stay in power.
Labor required the support of the minor Greens party — which insisted on the tax — in order to have enough seats in Parliament to control government.
The deal helped lead to her downfall, and in June, Gillard lost her job to Rudd in a vote of party lawmakers. Gillard herself came to power by unseating Rudd in a similar party coup three years earlier.