The people of Victoria have given Premier Daniel Andrews the tick of approval for his management of the pandemic and his progressive social policies.
They’ve voted to give Mr. Andrews and Labor four more years of majority government to run the state.
With around two-thirds of lower house votes counted, projections give Labor more than 50 of the 88 seats and it could come close to the 55 seats it enjoyed during its second term in power despite a 5.8% swing against the party.
Mr. Andrews who’ll become Victoria’s longest serving Labor Premier in April said it was the “greatest honour of his life” as he confirmed he would serve the full four-year term.
He declared that “Hope always defeats hate. Trying to be popular all the time doesn’t work, because it’s not right.”
“Politics may well be divided, but our community is united. Whether you voted for us or not, we’ll work hard and get things done.”
Monash University senior politics lecturer Zareh Ghazarian told the ABC that the result was a clear vindication of the Andrews government.
“Voters have resoundingly given his government the thumbs up for not only the future agenda that they promoted during the campaign, but also in terms of the way in which the pandemic was managed,” Dr. Ghazarian said.
The coalition is projected to win at least 25 seats after starting the count with 27 while the Greens look set to grab a minimum of four.
The result was a disaster for Liberal leader Matthew Guy after leading the coalition to its second consecutive election humiliation.
He will not recontest the party leadership.
The Nationals regained Morwell and picked up Shepparton and Mildura
from country independents in regional Victoria.
Only a third of Legislative Council votes have been counted and it could be weeks before they are finalised.
Early projections have Labor with 15 of the 40 seats, the Liberals 12, the Greens four and the Nationals two.
The Reason Party, the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party and the Animal Justice Party look set to keep their single seats.
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party could lose all three of its Upper House seats.
Bernie Finn who was expelled from the Liberal Party over some anti-abortion posts is a chance to hold his seat for the Democratic Labor Party (DLP).
Other minority parties still in the running include One Nation, the Liberal Democrats and the Legalise Cannabis Party.
Renee Heath is expected to win a spot in parliament for the Liberal Party even though just days before the election, Matthew Guy said she would not sit in the party room because of her links to an ultra conservative church.
The strongly Christian Family First party polled 2.8% of the statewide vote, but it’s unclear whether that could translate into an Upper House seat.
Victoria is the only jurisdiction in Australia that still uses a voting system allowing micro parties with less than 1% of the vote to jump ahead of more popular candidates by pooling their preferences.