Australia deputy PM poll win boosts embattled coalition

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SYDNEY: Australia’s deputy prime minister has easily won a crucial by-election triggered by a dual-citizenship crisis that threatened the ruling coalition’s grip on power. Barnaby Joyce’s emphatic re-election in the Saturday poll brought relief to a government which lost its slim parliamentary majority over the citizenship saga, and as it battled falling voter support and internal division. “This has been a stunning victory,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told supporters late Saturday in Tamworth, a city in Joyce’s largely rural seat in New South Wales state. “Barnaby Joyce has been re-elected member for New England with what appears to be the largest swing to the government in the history of by-elections in Australia.” Counting was ongoing but Joyce had so far picked up 64.6 percent of the vote, with his closest rival Labor’s David Ewings at 11.3 percent. Several members of the ruling Liberal-National coalition were turfed out of their seats after the High Court in October reaffirmed a constitutional provision barring dual citizens from serving in federal parliament. In the lower House of Representatives, where the coalition held a narrow one-seat majority, Joyce and former tennis star John Alexander had to recontest their seats in by-elections. Joyce had automatically acquired New Zealand citizenship through his father, and renounced his Kiwi nationality to allow him to run again.

AFP

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