Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia looked set to form a majority government as vote counting from a weekend election allayed fears that his conservative coalition may have to rule in the minority following a shock victory. The coalition was returned to power in a stunning result after opinion polls and odds-makers had tipped the opposition Labor Party to win. The outcome ranks as Australia’s biggest election upset since 1993, when Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating was returned to power.
With 76 seats in the House of Representatives needed for majority rule, figures from the Australian Electoral Commission on Monday showed that with around 84% of votes counted, the coalition was on target to win 78 seats — an increase of five after going into the election as a minority government.
The Trump administration will unveil the first phase of its long-awaited blueprint for Mideast peace next month at a conference in the region designed to highlight economic benefits that could be reaped if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.The plan, which has been two years in the making, envisions large-scale investment and infrastructure work in the Palestinian territories. But the central political elements remain mostly unknown. And the economic workshop, June 25-26 in Bahrain, will not address the most contentious parts of the conflict: borders, the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and Israel’s security.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said that any American peace plan that ignores his people’s aspirations for an independent state is doomed to fail. “Any solution to the conflict in Palestine must be political ... and based on ending the occupation,” Shtayyeh said, during a cabinet meeting.
Italy’s anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini led a rally of right-wing populist leaders seeking historic results in this week’s European Parliament elections in their bid to transform European politics. Salvini, the head of Italy’s right-wing League party, has positioned himself at the forefront of a growing movement of nationalist leaders seeking to free the European Union’s 28 nations from what he called Brussels’ “illegal occupation”.
He pledged to close Europe’s borders to migrants if the League wins not just the most votes of any party in Italy, but also of Europe. Salvini was joined by 10 other nationalist leaders, including far-right leaders Marine Le Pen of France’s National Rally party and Joerg Meuthen of the Alternative for Deutschland party. It was a major tour de force for the expanding movement ahead of the May 23-26 vote that will take place in all 28 EU nations.
Iran quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity amid tensions with the U.S. over Tehran’s atomic program, just after President Donald Trump and Iran’s foreign minister traded threats and taunts on Twitter. Iranian officials made a point to stress that the uranium would be enriched only to the 3.67% limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, making it usable for a power plant but far below what’s needed for an atomic weapon.
Tehran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to set new terms for the deal, or it will enrich closer to weapons-grade levels in a Middle East already on edge. Already this month, officials in the UAE alleged that four oil tankers were sabotaged; Yemeni rebels allied with Iran launched a drone attack on an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia; and a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Iraq’s capital of Baghdad, days after nonessential U.S. staff were ordered to evacuate from the country.