CANBERRA, Australia — Australia's
prime minister on Thursday said the nation will go to the polls to elect a new
government on May 18.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement came after he
advised Governor-General Peter Cosgrove as representative of Australia's head
of state, Queen Elizabeth II, to set the election date.
Morrison's conservative coalition is seeking a third three-year
term. But Morrison is the third prime minister to lead a divided government in
that time and only took the helm in late August.
Opinion polls suggest his reign will become one of the shortest
in the 118-year history of Australian prime ministers on election day. The
polls suggest center-left opposition leader Bill Shorten will become the eighth
prime minister since the country plunged into an extraordinary period of
political instability in 2007.
The election pits Shorten, a former labor union leader who has
presented himself as the alternative prime minister for the past six years, and
Morrison, a leader who the Australian public is still getting to know.