Australia is all set to conduct its first statewide elections on May 21, 2022. The polls will determine which political party will take control of the House of Representatives, which in turn elect the Prime Minister. 

The entire Australian House of Representatives will be up for elections, while a little more than half of the seats in the Senate will be contested.

Also Read: With elections near, Australia sees first interest rate hike in 11 years

Out of the 151 seats in the lower legislative house, a political party will have to secure at least 76 seats. In case no party is able to secure a majority, minor parties and individually elected lawmakers will play a pivotal role by forming alliances. 

Voting is mandatory in Australia for all individuals who are over 18. More than 96% (17.2 million) of eligible voters have already registered for the upcoming 2022 elections.

Who are the leading candidates?

Scott Morrison, the current Prime Minister of Australia, is the primary candidate from the Liberal Party of Australia and hopes to retain his office. Morrison took the Prime Minister’s office in 2018, replacing Malcolm Turnbull.

Anthony Albanese is considered to be the main challenger to Morrison’s bid for the Prime Minister’s office. A member of the Australian Labor Party, Albanese has been a veteran Australian politician and briefly served as the deputy prime minister under Kevin Rudd in 2013.

Also Read: Australia records lowest unemployment rate since 1947, drops to 3.85%

What are the pivotal issues that may determine the outcome?

COVID-19: Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in his electoral campaigns, presented himself as the champion of tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Morrison has advertised his tough closed-borders approach to COVID, which helped Australia achieve one of the lowest death rates globally.

Economy: While Australia’s economy has been on an uphill climb through the COVID pandemic, people have been concerned about rising costs of fuel, electricity and other goods, BBC reported.  Australia’s recent hike in interest rates has also increased pressure on both parties.