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Australia's prime minister announces election will be May 18

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.

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