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Center-right candidate Tony Abbott expected to be Australia’s next PM

Australians voted Friday to decide which party will lead the country for the next three years.

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Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott listens to his guests at a breakfast meeting hosted by the China-Australia Chamber of Commerce in Beijing on July 24, 2012. (GOU YIGE/AFP/Getty Images)

Australians cast their votes Friday to determine which party will lead the country for the next three years.

Polls predicted that Tony Abbott’s center-right Liberal-National coalition would win the election over current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Labor party. Such a win would end six years of Labor party rule.

“There’s an overwhelming sense that Labor’s time in charge has come to an end,” Zareh Ghazarian, a political analyst at Monash University in Melbourne, told Bloomberg News. “The party made a solid start in its first three years but saw enormous damage in its final three, when voters grew concerned it was more concerned with internal matters than running the country.”

London-born Abbott, 55, who once trained to be a Catholic priest, is unpopular among voters, but his party’s ideas have gained support.

The party has promised to cut taxes and introduce a $5 billion a year maternity-leave program, in addition to repealing the Labor party’s carbon and mining taxes.

"I want to build a strong economy so everyone can get ahead, scrap the carbon tax, end the waste, stop the boats and build the roads of the 21st century,” Abbott said Thursday.

Rudd, 55, has accused Abbott of having a “hidden agenda” to cut services.

“Our priority for jobs, health, hospitals, the NBN, child care – they're all out there and fully costed. His are in the dark,” Rudd said.

“We have kept the economy strong,” Rudd told Seven Network television on Thursday. “Other economies have fallen apart and gone into recession. If you have any concerns or anxiety or uncertainty about whether Mr. Abbott’s massive cuts will hit your job, or your school, your hospital, don’t vote for him.”

Rudd replaced Julia Gillard as head of the Labor party in June after the party decided he was more popular with the electorate.

More from GlobalPost: Rudd sworn in as Australian prime minister after Gillard dumped by ruling party

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/130906/center-right-candidate-tony-abbott-expected-be-australia-s