CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Prime Minister Julia Gillard surprised Australians on Wednesday by announcing that elections will be held Sept. 14, in a country where governments have traditionally given the opposition little more than a month's notice to keep a strategic advantage.
In a speech to the National Press Gallery, Gillard said she wanted to create an environment in which voters could more easily focus on national issues by removing uncertainty around the timing.
"I can act so Australia's parliament and government serves their full three-year term, so it is clear and certain when the election will be held," Gillard said.
Opinion polls suggest the conservative opposition coalition led by Tony Abbott is likely to win convincingly.
Gillard's center-left Labor Party narrowly scraped through the last elections in 2010 to form a minority government with the support of independent legislators and a lawmaker from the minor Greens party.
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