A rather unique situation is emerging around the meeting of the Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) leaders in Japan later this month due to general elections in Australia. It appears that the Quad Summit may well be a quintuple affair in case there is a hung verdict down under.
The Australian elections are slated for May 21, which is just three days ahead of the Quad Summit on May 24 in Japan. Though the pre-poll surveys have given the Labour Party an edge over the coalition government, a hung verdict has not been ruled out.
According to sources, if there is a hung verdict then most likely both Scott Morrison and his rival Anthony Albanese will join the summit together, virtually. This is because at a critical political juncture, when talks may be on to form an alliance government in Australia, the two might not be able to travel.
However, the situation will be quite different if there is a clear verdict. In such a scenario, the Prime Minister elect is expected to travel to Japan.
When recently asked by ABC Radio about his “first totemic act” if he does indeed win the elections as projected, Albanese said, “The first act is one that is really beyond my control, which is to head straight to the Quad leaders meeting in Tokyo that will take place on the 24th. So, meeting with President Biden, Prime Minister Kashida and Narendra Modi are three great allies will be really important.”
Similarly, in an interview to Foreign Policy, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “The Quad is very important. It’s important for Australia to be represented there… But that’s not up to me, others are making those decisions, not me.”
Sources revealed that Japan wanted the Quad Summit in April and Australia had suggested September but the date was primarily determined by the US and the availability of President Joe Biden.
Early voting started in Australia on Monday. The centre-left Labour Party showed an 8% lead over the present Morrison-led centre-right coalition government in a pre-poll survey conducted by The Australian newspaper. However, in personal ratings, Morrison continued to have a slender 2% lead over Leader of Opposition, Anthony Albanese.
It’s significant to note that even the last time in 2019 pre-poll surveys in Australia has predicted a loss for the Morrison coalition, however, he came out victorious saying he believed in miracles. Nearly 151 seats are needed in the lower house of parliament to determine who governs the country.