CANBERRA, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- The 2013 Australian federal election started Saturday with the participation of more than 50 parties. However, the 150 seats in the House of Representatives and 40 vacant seats in the Senate are expected to be shared by only the two major parties, namely, the Labor Party and the Liberal-National Coalition, and a number of small parties.
The Australian Labor Party
The Australian Labor Party (ALP) is Australia's oldest active political party. It has contested state elections from 1891 and every federal election since federation in 1901.
It is 45 years older than the Liberal Party, its main opponent. The origins of the Labor Party go back before federation to the governments of the colonial states.
ALP's central values includes fairness, compassion, individual freedom, labor rights, responsibility, democracy and community.
The Australian Labor Party is a democratic and federal party, which consists of both individual members and affiliated trade unions, who decide the party's policies, elect its governing bodies and choose its candidates for public office. The majority of trade unions in Australia are affiliated to the party, and their affiliation fees, based on the size of their memberships, make up a large part of the party's income.
The federal parliamentary leader of the Labor Party is elected by the Labor members of the national Parliament (the Caucus).
ALP led by Kevin Rudd won the 2007 election with a 23-seat. Julia Gillard replaced Rudd as Labor leader and prime minister in a 2010 spill on the leadership. During the 2010 election, the first hung parliament occurred since the 1940 election and the incumbent Gillard Labor government formed a minority government in the House of Representatives with four crossbenchers -- three independents and one Green, a one-seat parliamentary majority. And on June 26, 2013, Kevin Rudd returned to the leadership and the prime ministership when he defeated Julia Gillard in a ballot on the leadership in the Caucus.
The Liberal Party of Australia
In 1944, the Liberal Party of Australia was founded after a three-day meeting held in a small hall not far from Parliament House in Canberra. Its founder was Robert Menzies who was to become Australia's longest serving prime minister.
The party, originally formed in 1910, became the Nationalist Party in 1917 and the United Australia Party in 1932. Since 1944, the Liberal Party governed Australia at the Federal level from 1949-1972, 1975-1983 and 1996-2007. On each of these occasions, the party governed in coalition with The Nationals (originally known as the Country Party).
The Liberals are generally advocates of economic liberalism, with an emphasis on encouraging competition in a free market.
The Liberal Party has governed in coalition with the National Party for 41 of the past 61 years, most recently for nearly 12 years under John Howard.
It lost the election in 2007 to a Labor Party led by Kevin Rudd.
The current Leader of the Liberal Party is Tony Abbott and the Deputy Leader is Julie Bishop.
The National Party
The National Party started off as the Australian Country Party, when 11 non-aligned members of federal parliament who all supported the Australian Farmers' Federal Organization came together from regional parts of the country. And the party has since evolved to be more than just a party advocating for the interests of farmers to one which aims to represent people from a range of backgrounds in regional parts of Australia.
It began as the Australian Country Party and then adopted the name the National Country Party in 1975. The party's name was changed to the National Party of Australia in 1982.
For most of its history, the Nationals have been in coalition with the Liberal Party. The current Leader is Warren Truss.
When the Coalition is in power, the leader of the National Party will be the deputy prime minister. But when the Coalition is the opposition, the leader will not be the deputy leader of the Liberal Party.
The Australian Green Party
Through the 1980s, environmental parties in Australia were essentially independent state organizations. In 1992, representatives from the different state-based parties met in Sydney where they agreed on the formation of the Australian Greens.
The Greens claimed that it is much more than an environmental party. They said the Greens speak on behalf of those who wouldn't otherwise get much of a say inside parliament and natural environment.
Their core beliefs are ecological sustainability, grassroot participatory democracy, social justice and peace and non-violence.
The Australian Greens are also part of the Global Greens network, which includes around 70 Greens parties established worldwide.
The current Leader of the Greens is Christine Milne.
The 43rd Australian parliament has seen the Australian Greens obtain extraordinary political influence. Despite securing only 12 percent of the vote in 2010, the Greens have held the balance of power in the Senate and support from their single MP in the lower house has been crucial in passing legislation.