CANBERRA, Australia – Australia’s “unelectable” and gaffe-prone political leader, Tony Abbott, confounded critics Saturday by becoming the country’s latest prime minister, leading the opposition to a sweeping election victory and ending six years of Labor Party rule.

Abbott, the leader of the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition, rode a wave of public bitterness over a hated carbon emissions tax, worries about a flagging economy and frustration over government infighting.

The result was a stunning turnaround for Abbott, a 55-year-old former Roman Catholic seminarian and Rhodes scholar who has never been particularly popular and was once dubbed unelectable by opponents and some of his own supporters.

He emerged victorious thanks, in large part, to the frustration of a country fed up with Labor and its once-popular leader, Kevin Rudd, who had engaged in a years-long power struggle with his former deputy, Julia Gillard. Gillard, who became the nation’s first female prime minister after ousting Rudd in a party vote in 2010, ended up losing her job to Rudd three years later in a similar internal party coup.

With more than 90 percent of votes counted, official figures from the Australian Electoral Commission showed the Liberals ahead 53 percent to Labor’s 47 percent. The coalition was on track to win 91 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives.