Australia poll clears way for vote on republic

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The Independent Online
AUSTRALIANS yesterday returned the Labor Party for a record fifth successive term of government, clearing the way for a referendum that could make the country a republic by the end of the decade.

Paul Keating, the Prime Minister, who campaigned with a promise of a referendum on dropping the Queen as head of state, claimed victory before cheering supporters in an election which opinion polls and pundits had predicted he would lose.

Mr Keating, 49, fighting his first campaign as Prime Minister since he toppled Bob Hawke as Labor leader, overcame low personal ratings in the polls. He won despite a recession which has left a million Australians - 11 per cent of the workforce - unemployed.