Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister, has surprised Australians by announcing that elections will be held on 14 September in a country where governments have traditionally given the opposition little more than a month’s notice to keep a strategic advantage.
In a speech to the National Press Gallery, Ms Gillard said she wanted to create an environment in which voters could more easily focus on national issues by removing uncertainty around the timing of the elections.
“I reflected on this over the summer and I thought, ‘It’s not right for Australians to be forced into a guessing game, and it’s not right for Australians to not face this year with certainty and stability’,” she said.
Experts disagreed about whether Ms Gillard’s unconventional move would give her an advantage. Some said voters would embrace her for making the announcement, while others suggested Ms Gillard had above all created a gruelling eight-month election campaign instead of the usual five-week campaign.
Opinion polls suggest the opposition conservative coalition is likely to win the elections.