SYDNEY - Australia's center-right government has staged a stunning comeback in Saturday's federal election. Widely predicted to feel the force of voter anger after six turbulent years in office, the Liberal-National coalition will be returned to power for a third term either in its own right or in a minority government with the support of independents.
This is a remarkable result few people had expected. For months, opinion polls had indicated that Australians had grown tired of feuds within Scott Morrison's conservative government. It's had three prime ministers since it was elected in 2013, but fought this campaign on its economic record.
The prime minister had said the opposition was not fit to govern and could not manage money.
He is celebrating his unexpected triumph with party loyalists and his wife and two daughters.
"I have always believed in miracles! I'm standing with the three biggest miracles [his wife and two daughters] in my life here tonight! And tonight we've been delivered another one!" he said.
Voters appeared unnerved by the opposition's radical tax reform agenda and its big spending plans for health and education.
Labor's Bill Shorten has quit as leader and has spoken of the pain of defeat.
"I want to say beyond this room to Australians who supported Labor: I know that you're all hurting and I am too," he said.
It's not all good news for the center-right coalition. The former conservative prime minister Tony Abbott has lost his seat in Sydney to an independent candidate after holding it for 25 years.
Australian politics is rarely dull; it is often brutal and petty but also unstable. It is more than a decade since a prime minister here last served a full term in office.