Australian prime minister expected to call May 18 election

Australia's prime minister on Thursday called for a May election that will be fought on issues including climate change, asylum seekers and economic management

Prime Minister Scott Morrison advised Governor-General Peter Cosgrove as representative of Australia's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, to set the election date.

Morrison is expected to announce later Thursday that Australia will go to the polls on May 18.

Morrison's conservative coalition is seeking a third three-year term. But Morrison is the third prime minister to lead a divided government in that time and only took the helm in late August.

Opinion polls suggest his reign will become one of the shortest in the 118-year history of Australian prime ministers on election day. The polls suggest center-left opposition leader Bill Shorten will become the eighth prime minister since the country plunged into an extraordinary period of political instability in 2007.

The election pits Shorten, a former labor union leader who has presented himself as the alternative prime minister for the past six years, and Morrison, a leader who the Australian public is still getting to know.