Australian PM calls election

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard called an election yesterday for August 21, with the tightly-fought poll to be decided over policies on economic management, climate and border protection.

Australia’s first female prime minister was appointed three weeks ago by the ruling Labour party as the government faced electoral defeat. Since then Gillard has resurrected support, putting Labour narrowly ahead in opinion polls. But conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott needs to win only nine seats to form a government with four independents, or 13 seats to take office outright.

“Today I seek a mandate from the Australian people to move Australia forward,” Gillard told a news conference.

“Moving forward means moving forward with budget surpluses and a stronger economy,” said Gillard, who toppled leader Kevin Rudd in a party coup on June 24.

Financial markets are not expected to react much to the election given there is little to choose on core economic policy.

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