Australia’s ruling conservative coalition appeared to secure a shock election win Saturday, with the party predicted to have defied expectations and retained power.National broadcaster ABC called the election for Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s coalition, although it was not clear if he would lead a minority or majority government. The result is a monumental upset and a failure of pollsters, who put the opposition Labor party under Bill Shorten in pole position. Some bookies had paid out early expecting a coalition defeat and all but the most ardent partisans had thrown in the towel.Early results appeared to show a fractured electorate with minor populist and rightwing parties playing an outsized role, but it will be a while before the dust settles. They include Pauline Hanson, whose party shrugged off revelations her party solicited money from the US gun lobby and Clive Palmer — dubbed Australia’s Donald Trump — who splashed tens of millions on a populist campaign. Australia has compulsory voting and a complex system of ballots ranked by voter preference, with big political, economic and cultural differences from state to state on the vast island-continent.Liberal supporter Anthony Ching said the projected result was “unbelievable”. “Everybody was expecting that we were not going to win,” he said. Many of the laurels for victory will go to Morrison, who came to power last August after a party-room coup by hardliners in his Liberal party ousted the more moderate prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.Closed the gapWeeks ago, Morrison looked set for an electoral drubbing, fated to enter the history books as one of the most short-lived prime ministers in Australian history. But he closed the gap with a negative campaign and backing from the country’s biggest media organisation — owned by Rupert Murdoch — mainly targeting older, wealthier voters concerned over Labor plans to cut various tax loopholes in order to fund spending on education, healthcare and climate initiatives.He campaigned almost single-handedly, with many of his cabinet resigning or being too unpopular to be trotted out on the national stage.As results from the northeastern state of Queensland trickled in, it became clear the Liberals had done better than expected and disbelief set in among the Labor ranks. “It’s heartbreaking,” said Jango Rust, a 19-year-old at the Labor party campaign HQ in Melbourne.