Dr Narelle Miragliotta
This raises the question of why the Liberals’ decision to direct their preferences against the Greens is so newsworthy. Why does it matter that the Liberals have chosen this path? How might this decision impact on the electoral prospects of Greens’ candidates competing in lower house seats?
The importance of how-to-vote card recommendations at Australian elections owes to three key factors. First, the vagaries of the full preferential voting system are such that voters must indicate a preference for every candidate listed on the ballot paper – even if they have no interest in candidates other than their first preference – in order for their vote to be rendered valid.
Over the years, there also has been a significant increase in the number of lower house seats that are decided on preferences (as opposed to first preference votes). At the 2010 federal election, for instance, 57% of the 150 House of Representatives seats were decided following a distribution of voters’ preferences.
Finally, Australian electors tend to follow the how-to-vote card recommendations of their most preferred party. There is a remarkably high level of compliance among voters in following the parties’ preferencing instructions, even though the decision in practice is one for individual electors to make.
The conjunction of these forces has had the effect of transforming parties’ how-to-vote card recommendations into a form of electoral commodity that can be traded between parties. Over the years, Australian parties have, at different times, been able to capitalise on the particular quirks of the electoral system, and the goodwill of their supporters, to achieve a number of different objectives.
Parties have used preferencing recommendations to bolster their own electoral prospects (whether in other lower house seats or in the Senate), gaining commitments on matters of policy from other parties in exchange for preference recommendations, and punishing opposing parties.
The main objective of the Liberals’ preference strategy is to deny the Greens the opportunity to win any lower house seat on the back of the subsequent preferences of Liberal supporters.
From the Liberals’ perspective, this is a highly practical and sensible tactic, even if it does have the perverse effect of boosting the electoral fortunes of its main rival, the ALP. This decision is likely to strike a chord with the wishes of many of the party’s supporters.
A similar strategy, used by the Liberals at the Victorian state election in 2010, reaped electoral dividends for the party. Liberal voters, it seems, are not just opposed to the Greens but the strength of this sentiment appears to be intensifying over time.
Importantly, the Liberals’ decision to preference against the Greens is consistent with opposition leader Tony Abbott’s narrative that another minority government would be a disastrous outcome for the nation. The Liberals are simply putting their money where their mouth is, so to speak, anddaring the ALP to do the same.
So what does this mean for the Adam Bandt in Melbourne and other Greens candidates, such as Hall Greenland, who is contesting deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese’s Sydney seat of Grayndler?
There is no doubt that the Liberals’ preference decision will make an already difficult task for the Greens even harder. While there will be the inevitable preference leakage from Liberal voters, it is unlikely to be sufficient enough to assist Bandt to hold Melbourne.
Bandt, as he has always declared publicly, will most likely have to rely on winning a majority of first preference votes to hold his seat.
Find out more:
Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett welcomed to the Victorian Government Research Institute on Social Cohesion (RIOSC)
Helen will help build this interdisciplinary Community of Practice (COP) and participate in research, policy and program development, and enhance the dialogue around social cohesion, multiculturalism, community resilience and preventing violent extremism.
Social Sciences grad Lucie Cadzow heads to Oxford on Clarendon Scholarship
A Monash Social Sciences graduate has won a scholarship to study at the University of … Continue reading Social Sciences grad Lucie Cadzow heads to Oxford on Clarendon Scholarship
Gender and Family Violence: New Frameworks in Prevention
In 2015, the Andrews Labor Government announced a Royal Commission Into Family Violence. Headed by … Continue reading Gender and Family Violence: New Frameworks in Prevention
IR’s Dr Maria Rost Rublee presents to Engineers Australia Panel
Dr Maria Rost Rublee (International Relations) recently presented to the Engineers Australia Nuclear Engineering Panel on … Continue reading IR’s Dr Maria Rost Rublee presents to Engineers Australia Panel
Dr Remy Davison meets with Italian Chief Economic Advisor Dr Filippo Taddei
The School of Social Sciences’ Dr. Remy Davison met recently with a senior Italian government … Continue reading Dr Remy Davison meets with Italian Chief Economic Advisor Dr Filippo Taddei
Crocodiles in the Timor Sea: development and socio-economic implications of the maritime resources dispute
Tuesday 16 February, State Library of Victoria This public seminar was hosted by the Anthropology … Continue reading Crocodiles in the Timor Sea: development and socio-economic implications of the maritime resources dispute
Defence and Security in the real world: Monash students attend ADFA Conference
Five Monash undergraduate students were selected to participate in the 2015 Security and Strategy undergraduate … Continue reading Defence and Security in the real world: Monash students attend ADFA Conference
Monash Arts undergraduate showcases her work at ACUR
Monash Social Sciences student, Magdalena Janas, was selected to be the Faculty of Arts’ representative … Continue reading Monash Arts undergraduate showcases her work at ACUR
UN support for Social Science research
On 14 October, 2015 the Australian ambassador, H. E. Gillan Bird, made her statement to … Continue reading UN support for Social Science research
Carolyn Holbrook – joint winner, NSW Premier’s History Awards
Carolyn Holbrook was recently announced as joint winner of the Australian First World War History … Continue reading Carolyn Holbrook – joint winner, NSW Premier’s History Awards
2016 Victorian Parliamentary Internship Program
Applications for ATS3836 Victorian Parliamentary Internship Program, first semester 2016, open on Monday 12 October (and close on Friday 23 October)…
Prime Minister’s Centre Fellowship for Monash academic
Dr Zareh Ghazarian of the School of Social Sciences has been awarded the Australian Prime … Continue reading Prime Minister’s Centre Fellowship for Monash academic