Not all the votes have been counted, but the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, has been forced to concede that neither her party, Labor, nor the opposition conservative coalition is likely to win the 76 seats necessary for an outright majority.
ABC Australia is forecasting 72 seats for Labor and 73 for the conservatives.
The opposition leader, Tony Abbott, described the result as a "savage swing" against the government. It is a big blow for Gillard, who has been prime minister for only two months after ousting Kevin Rudd. Her honeymoon period as a new leader did not last long. Gillard must now woo a handful of independent candidates to try to form a government. If successful, it will be Australia's first coalition government in 70 years.
The Sportingbet Australia chief executive, Michael Sullivan, said it was "hard to see how a Labor government relying on support from a Green and essentially conservative independents would ever reach a consensus and be able to function effectively".
So, Australia possibly faces a coalition consisting of wildly different ideological elements. Rings a bell . . .