Australia's Victoria state to vote on Saturday

Australia's Victoria state to vote on Saturday

The Premier of Victoria State, Daniel Andrews, addresses the media at his daily televised press conference in Melbourne, Australia on October 28, 2020. AP SYDNEY - Australia's Victoria state will vote on Saturday to select its next government in a close-run contest with the incumbent Labor government's lead against the conservative coalition shrinking in the final campaign stretch.

Labor was comfortably ahead during the initial stages of the campaign after eight years in power, but a poll done for The Age newspaper showed voters cutting their support, according to a poll done this week.

Labor is ahead 53 - 47 percent on a two-party preferred basis against the Liberal-National coalition, though that has dropped from 59 - 41 percent in the previous poll in October.

If the result is replicated, Premier Daniel Andrews will likely remain the leader of Australia's second-most populous state for a third straight term, but may not form a majority government.

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Andrews said on Friday Victoria needed a strong, stable majority government, when reporters asked him if Labor would consider making deals with independents if it falls short of a majority.

Labor won just under two-thirds of the Victorian Assembly's 88 seats in a landslide four years ago. The Herald Sun reported that it could lose more than a dozen seats this time, citing a separate poll.

A woman carries her shopping while police officers stand guard on a Melbourne street on September 29, 2021, as the city struggles with a surge in COVID- 19 infections. WILLIAM WEST AFP Bookmaker Sportsbet said the prospects of the coalition had firmed on election eve. It looks like a Labor win, but it is not clear if it will be a majority.

Both sides pledged millions to improve the state's infrastructure, education, and healthcare system after going into the campaign.

Labor said it would build a rail loop project for state capital Melbourne, which local media estimates will cost about A $125 billion $85 billion but the coalition led by Matthew Guy said it would shelve that if elected.

More than 1.63 million votes and around 273,000 postal votes have been cast as of Thursday, according to data from the Victorian Electoral CommissionVictorian Electoral Commission.