Australia's three week old PM Julia Gillard pulled the plug yesterday, announcing an election for August 21, some three months short of a three year 'full' term (and well short of the maximum possible length the Labor Government could have run - she had until April 16 next year in theory). Oh for fixed term elections!
Voting is compulsory in Australia, and potential voters have until Monday night to make sure they are on the electoral roll (and thus avoid a fine) - you can check whether or not you are correctly enrolled by going to the Electoral Commission site.
The polls put the two parties pretty close, and it is certainly hard to separate them in many ways. In the few short weeks of Gillard's Prime Ministership we've seen a continuation of the current Government's incompetence when it comes to actually delivering policy, with its overly rushed and misguided asylum seeker policy that has (as I predicted) quickly unravelled. And we've seen a rush to the middle ground on a range of other issues. The question is whether Labor does actually have any areas of genuine policy leadership it plans to unveil.
On the other hand, the erratic path of announcements from the colourful Opposition leader Tony Abbott doesn't really lend a great deal of confidence that the other side would be much better, that they have learnt the lessons of Opposition.
Expect over the next few days some key policies to be announced and the lines of demarcation to become clearer. Should be an interesting few weeks.