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Annie Guglitotta

Australia's new government: shake up at home, steadiness abroad

Anthony Albanese, Australia’s newly elected prime minister, hasn’t wasted any time since being sworn in on Monday. After taking the oath of office, he immediately boarded a flight to Tokyo to meet with Australia’s Quad partners – India, Japan and the US – to talk China.

Indeed, the unusually hasty political transition was not lost on President Joe Biden, who quipped that “if you fall asleep that's okay” – a nod to Albanese’s campaign trail hangover and/or jet lag. But Albanese fought the urge to nap because he has a jam-packed agenda, which includes bilateral meetings with Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Fumio Kishida as well as Biden.

Albanese, the son of a single mum who grew up in public housing in Sydney, takes the reins as the country’s economy is still reeling from the enduring pandemic. What does the election of his center-left Labor Party mean at home and abroad?

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Ukraine War Dominates Davos Discussions | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Ukraine war dominates Davos discussions

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60 from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Is the Russia-Ukraine war dominating the conversation in Davos?

Yes, it is. There is only one side of the conversation here. Not true globally, but in Davos, there are no Russian delegates. And I mean, frankly, pretty much every single person attending is saying as much as they can in favor of Ukraine. You see a lot of people kind of dressing the part and certainly you're in Europe. And so as a consequence, the fact that this is a war in Europe that ends the peace dividend, it's been topic number one, topic number two, topic number three. Kept me pretty busy, frankly.

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Albanese addresses supporters in Sydney after winning Australia's election.

REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

What We’re Watching: Australia elects new PM, Poland hearts Ukraine, Saudis stand by Russia

Albo takes over in Oz

After his Labor Party won Saturday's parliamentary election, Anthony Albanese, known popularly as Albo, is set to become Australia’s new prime minister. But it remains unclear whether Labor has a parliamentary majority: if his party falls just short in the end, it'll be a minority government, so Albanese will need some support from the Greens and climate-focused independents to get laws passed. In a gesture toward both, Albanese announced Sunday that he wants to make Australia a renewable energy superpower — a sharp departure from Scott Morrison, aka ScoMo, his coal-loving conservative predecessor. While mail-in ballots are still being counted, Albanese was sworn in Monday as acting PM in order to attend the Quad Summit in Tokyo on Tuesday. Albanese will need to hit the ground running because Australia is also in the AUKUS security partnership, which China doesn’t like one bit. Just weeks after Beijing inked a deal with the neighboring Solomon Islands that'll allow the Chinese to gain a military foothold in the Pacific, expect the China question to continue dominating Australian foreign policy under the new government.

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Joe Biden speaks during a joint news conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk-youl in Seoul.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

In Asia to fix imbalance, Biden talks both guns and butter

In his first presidential trip to Asia, where he is visiting South Korea and Japan as well as huddling with Quad partners, Joe Biden isn’t expected to sign any major trade deals or defense agreements. But America’s commander-in-chief is going to be in China’s neighborhood, shoring up new and old alliances in the region, reminding Beijing that checking the PRC is very much on Washington’s agenda, despite the administration’s attention being taken up by domestic politics and the war in Ukraine.

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Ari Winkleman

A guide to Australia’s lackluster election

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australians will head to the polls on May 21 to decide whether to keep his Liberal Party in power. (Time was ticking on his first term and he had to call a vote.) He’s facing off against Anthony Albanese, the low-profile leader of the Labor Party, which has served in opposition for a decade. Labor is currently leading by around 14 points, according to the Roy Morgan poll.

Australians have gained a reputation abroad for being amiable and easygoing, reflecting the country’s fair dinkum spirit. But Australian politics are notoriously cut-throat, long defined by back-stabbing, ad-hominem attacks and accusations of bullying – on both sides of the aisle. (Morrison is the first PM to complete his full term in 15 years because most leaders have been ousted by their own parties.)

What agenda items will be at the heart of the election campaign over the next six weeks, and what – if any – are the foreign policy implications?

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