Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had conceded defeat in a national election on Saturday, saying that while vote counting was incomplete the opposition Labor party looked likely to form a government.
"Tonight I have spoken to the Leader of the Opposition and the incoming Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and I've congratulated him on his election victory this evening," Morrison said at a televised speech in Sydney.
Morrison added that he would stand down as leader of the Liberal party.
The capitulation ends eight years and nine months in power for Morrison's conservative coalition. Morrison became prime minister in 2018 after several leadership changes.
Initial vote counts showed Prime Minister Scott Morrison's conservative coalition and the Labor opposition losing ground to smaller parties like the environment-focused Greens and climate-focused independents.
Neither of the major parties appeared certain to win the minimum 76 seats required for a majority in the 151-seat parliament, but Labor appeared on track to win more than 70 seats, the ABC said.
"Labor is 72 and needs 76 seats to govern. There are 11 members of the crossbench, most of whom support action on climate change," said ABC election analyst Antony Green in a live broadcast.
"If Labor falls short and it wants to form a government, it can talk to the Greens or it can talk to the crossbench."
Cable television station Sky News ran a chyron that said: "Labor tracking towards election victory."
"Today, Australians are making a big choice about their future," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters outside a voting center. "Australia needs someone who knows how to manage money, knows how to deal with national security interests, knows how to move forward and secure that strong economy."
Albanese said Australians want a change of government, which he said had nothing to be proud of.
"I've put us in a position where at worst we're competitive today. We're in the hunt here," Albanese said about his chances at the polls.
"In the fourth quarter, I want to kick with the wind at my back, and I believe we have the wind at our back," he said in a reference to Australian Rules football, one of the country's most popular sports.
As Labor focused on spiking inflation and sluggish wage growth, Morrison made the country's lowest unemployment in almost half a century the centerpiece of his campaign's final hours.
Voting is compulsory and more than half of all votes had been cast by Friday evening, with a record 8 million early in-person and postal votes, the Australian Electoral Commission said.
The commission has flagged that a clear winner might not immediately emerge if it is a close contest, due to the time required to count about 3 million postal votes.