Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have hit the Australian election campaign trail in a final push for votes ahead of Saturday’s poll.
Opinion polls place the opposition coalition, led by Tony Abbott, ahead of the ruling Labor party.
But PM Kevin Rudd appealed to undecided voters, saying they could close the gap.
The economy, asylum policy and carbon tax are amongst the key issues concerning voters.
Latest polls suggest the opposition Liberal-National coalition will take 53% of the vote to Labor’s 47%. All the major papers, except newspaper The Age, are backing the coalition.
On Friday Kevin Rudd was campaigning in the New South Wales Central Coast, while Tony Abbott spoke at a guitar factory in Melbourne.
Kevin Rudd emphasized the Labor government’s economic record and said his priority was “jobs, more jobs and jobs, health, hospitals and broadband, and to keep support for cost of living pressures”.
He also criticized the coalition’s U-turn on internet policy as a “debacle”.
The opposition on Thursday announced a policy to filter adult content from the internet, with customers having to opt-out for access. The policy was retracted a few hours later.
Tony Abbott said a failure of “quality control” was to blame for the fact that the policy was “poorly worded”.
More than 14 million Australian people are expected to vote in Saturday’s election
“We don’t support filtering the internet,” he said.
Tony Abbott said the coalition would “end the waste, stop the boats, and build roads of the 21st Century”.
He also warned voters against “another hung parliament, and a weak and divided Labor-Green government”.
“[The] only way to have a new way is to choose a new government,” he said.
The opposition released more of its planned cuts and policy costings on Thursday, including a A$4.5 billion ($4 billion) cut in foreign aid over three years that would be diverted to domestic infrastructure projects.
The proposed cut has been criticized by NGOs and rights groups.
The election comes after Kevin Rudd toppled his predecessor Julia Gillard in a leadership ballot in June, amid dismal polling figures. Julia Gillard had herself ousted Kevin Rudd as prime minister in 2010.
The Labor party experienced a brief poll bounce after Kevin Rudd’s reinstatement, and several polls subsequently showed that Australian voters preferred Kevin Rudd to Tony Abbott as prime minister.
However, the latest opinion polls give the opposition coalition a clear lead.
The economy has been a major issue, as Australia prepares to adjust to the end of the mining and resources boom amid slowing demand from China.
The election rivals have also both sought to tighten asylum policy amid a spike in the number of people arriving by boat.
Under a Labor plan, asylum seekers arriving by boat will be sent to Papua New Guinea and resettled there if found to be refugees.
Tony Abbott, meanwhile, says he will appoint a military commander to lead operations tackling people smugglers, and that asylum seekers granted refugee status would be limited to temporary renewable visas.
Both policies have been criticized by refugee rights groups. The UN has described Kevin Rudd’s policy as “troubling”, while Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young described the coalition’s policy as “cruelty and punishment for the sake of Tony Abbott looking tough”.
More than 14 million people are expected to vote in Saturday’s election, Australian media say.
There was a reported 94% voter turnout in the last federal election.
Every Australian citizen aged 18 or older is required by law to vote, with penalties for failure to vote without a valid reason.
Parliamentary elections are under way in Bulgaria with opinion polls predicting no outright winner.
Mass protests against low living standards and widespread corruption forced the government of the centre-right Gerb party to resign in February.
However, the run-up to Sunday’s election has been marked by voter apathy and claims of fraud.
On Saturday prosecutors said they had seized 350,000 illegal ballot papers at a printing house.
The election campaign had already been marred by revelations of illegal wiretapping of politicians.
Latest opinion polls suggested the Gerb party – headed by former Prime Minister Boiko Borisov – and its main challenger the socialist BSP party were running neck-and-neck.
Gerb has pledged to keep debts under control while the socialists say they will spend more and create jobs.
Parliamentary elections are under way in Bulgaria with opinion polls predicting no outright winner
Other parties expected to pass the 4% threshold needed to enter parliament are the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) – which represents Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish minority – the ultra-nationalist Ataka, and the centrist Bulgaria of the Citizens.
However, the prospect of an election with no outright winner has raised fears of a hung parliament and further instability in the EU’s poorest country.
Polls opened at 07:00 local time and are due to close at 20:00.
Bulgaria’s 6.9 million eligible voters can choose between 36 parties but turnout is predicted to be below 50%.
Despite the large number of parties competing, it is an election that no-one appears to want to win.
Boiko Borisov has said he would be happy to go into opposition and BSP leader Sergei Stanishev has said that if his party wins, he will not be prime minister.
Bulgaria faces a major economic and social crisis with unemployment officially close to 12% but – unofficially – over 18%.
A day before the election, prosecutors revealed they had raided a printing house near the capital Sofia and seized 350,000 ballot papers that were printed over the legally fixed number.
Sergei Stanishev described the discovery as a “scandal”.
He said it showed there had been “preparation for total falsification of the elections”.
The discovery triggered a protest by members of some opposition parties outside parliament on Saturday.
The election campaign has also been marred by revelations of illegal wiretapping of political opponents, with prosecutors pointing the finger at former Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov.
More than 250 international observers will monitor Sunday’s election.
President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney have embarked on a final frenzy of campaigning, four days before the general election.
Barack Obama, the Democratic incumbent, spoke at three events in Ohio, a state that could be decisive in his bid to be elected for a second term.
Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, appeared in Wisconsin before moving on to two events in hotly fought Ohio.
Opinion polls show the two rivals neck and neck on the final stretch.
On Friday, the US Department of Labor said 171,000 new jobs were created in October, which was better than expected.
The figures, the last major economic data to be released before the election, also showed the unemployment rate rose slightly to 7.9% from 7.8%.
On the campaign trail, the candidates framed the race for the White House as a choice between two different visions of America.
“We know what change looks like, and what the governor is offering ain’t it,” Barack Obama told supporters in Ohio.
Speaking soon after the jobs figures were released, Barack Obama added: “We’ve made real progress, but we’ve got more work to do.”
However, Mitt Romney told supporters the report was a “sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill”.
“Candidate Obama promised change, but he couldn’t deliver it. I promise change, but I have a record of achieving it,” the former Massachusetts governor said.
“[Barack Obama] has never led, never worked across the aisle, never truly understood how jobs are created in the economy.”
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have embarked on a final frenzy of campaigning
The vice-presidential candidates were also on the trail.
Democrat Vice-President Joe Biden spent the day campaigning in Wisconsin, while Republican running mate Paul Ryan made stops in Colorado and Iowa before joining Mitt Romney at an event in Ohio.
First Lady Michelle Obama was also on the stump on her husband’s behalf in Virginia.
The frantic pace of campaigning is set to continue over the weekend, with the president scheduled to visit four battleground states – Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia – on Saturday alone.
He is then due to appear in New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and Colorado on Sunday, the penultimate day of canvassing.
Mitt Romney, meanwhile, is heading to New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado on Saturday – three states that his opponent carried in 2008.
The wealthy former businessman finishes his weekend tour with stops in Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania on Sunday.
Correspondents say the fate of the election boils down to what happens in a small handful of states that either candidate could win.
Ohio, with 20 electoral college votes, has been seen by many as the single most critical state of them all.
An opinion poll released on Friday by Rasmussen Reports said the candidates were tied there.
But the RealClearPolitics.com average of Ohio surveys put Barack Obama 2.4 points ahead.
The White House hopefuls were also urging key groups of voters to back them at the ballot box on Tuesday, as a report from the Pew Hispanic Center suggested that about 70% of Latino voters support Barack Obama, over about 20% for Mitt Romney.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama has been urging his supporters to head to their polling stations early.
Last week, the president himself took a break from the campaign trail to cast an early ballot in his hometown of Chicago.
It is estimated about 24 million people have already voted.