Slicing up the apple

Better late than never, here is the preliminary summary of the Tasmanian election that was first promised on Saturday evening. Not much remains to be said about Labor’s success in retaining its majority, except that the Poll Bludger bitterly regrets his failure to follow Mumble‘s example by taking a big punt on the absurdly favourable odds that Centrebet was offering on such an outcome earlier in the campaign. Of more interest at present is the universal perception that the result was a disaster for the Greens. There are two reasons why this view has taken root. Firstly, they did not emerge with the balance of power. This in fact has little to do with them, and is actually a mark of the Liberals’ failure rather than their own. Secondly, they once again indulged in their tactic of absurdly over-hyping their prospects to a gullible media, which presumably serves some purpose that I am too simple to understand. In light of this, any result short of two seats in Denison plus one in each other electorate was bound to cause unjustifiable disappointment.

In fact, the Greens have good reason to be content with their performance, if not actively pleased. In terms of votes, this was the party’s third best performance out of the seven in which it has fielded candidates in all seats, and it is not certain that they have lost any seats. It is true that they have failed to improve on the 2002 election, but since that saw an unrepeatably low vote for one of the two major parties, it is beyond me why this should come as a surprise. It needs to be remembered that the Greens won just one seat at the first election held under five-member electorates in 1998, which the major parties introduced with the expectation and intention that the Greens would be reduced to one or two seats if they were lucky.

No further results have been added to the Tasmanian Electoral Office website since the close of counting on Saturday night, nor will they be until 4pm today when "postals received and counted to date" will go up. Presumably there are people out there with some idea of how the count is going, and they are invited to say their piece in comments. For now, the state of play in the five seats is as follows.

Bass: The widespread perception is that Labor’s Steve Reissig will win a seat at the expense of sitting Greens member Kim Booth, improving Labor’s result to 3-2 from 2-2-1 in 2002. However, it should be recalled that the election night results from 2002 had most expecting a result of 3-1-1, as few could see how Labor could fail to win a third seat after preferences when their aggregate primary vote accounted for 2.95 quotas. Leakage of Labor preferences proved them wrong, and it is at least possible that they might do so again this time. The weakness of the Greens’ vote has been of particular surprise in Bass, where they have dropped from 16.5 per cent to 13.3 per cent despite the ongoing significance of the Tamar pulp mill controversy. It is clear where the vote has gone – Labor’s Michelle O’Byrne has obviously garnered significant personal support from left-wing voters, while an anti-pulp mill vote amounting to 1.9 per cent has wound up with independent campaigner Les Rochester. The former factor is no doubt the reason Bass was the only electorate where Labor’s primary vote was up (by 0.6 per cent) and where the Greens’ vote suffered the most (down 3.3 per cent). There seems every reason to believe that erstwhile Greens voters who pumped Michelle O’Byrne’s vote up to a remarkable 23.5 per cent sent their subsequent preferences back home to the Greens. Kevin Bonham at the Tasmanian Times, who is without question more on top of this than I am, reckons that "even in an optimistic simulation, assuming 70% of Rochester’s preferences flow to the Greens, factoring in leakage only results in about 0.92 quotas for the Greens to 2.98 for Labor and 2.02 for the Liberals". But it is not uncommon for unprecedented outcomes to make a nonsense of psephological modelling, and my gut feeling is that this might be one of those occasions.

Braddon: Braddon was the only electorate in which the Greens did not win a seat in 2002, and a 2.0 per cent drop in their vote meant they were well out of contention this time. Labor was well clear of three quotas with 51.2 per cent, the Liberals were well clear of two with 37.2 per cent, and all five sitting members were returned.

Denison: About 3 per cent of the vote shifted from Labor to Liberal and the Greens were down about 1 per cent, but as far as the party aggregates were concerned, this was a status quo result with another 3-1-1 outcome. The intra-party contests were another matter. Jim Bacon overwhelmingly dominated Labor’s share of the vote last time, polling 35.5 per cent out of 50.8 per cent; this time David Bartlett (elected on a recount in 2004 after Jim Bacon’s retirement) was the standout performer with 13.1 per cent, while fellow sitting member Graeme Sturges only performed slightly better than successful newcomer Lisa Singh, 9.8 per cent to 9.3 per cent. With no rival sitting Liberal, Michael Hodgman turned in his best performance since 1992 with 12.1 per cent, defying expectations that he might face a threat from Fabian Dixon (5.9 per cent). Peg Putt can at least console herself with the knowledge that her personal vote of 18.1 per cent was the best in the electorate.

Franklin: This looms as the other cliffhanger along with Bass, with Labor incumbent Paula Wriedt and Liberal newcomer Vanessa Goodwin fighting it out to see if the final outcome will be 3-1-1 or 2-2-1. The Greens’ vote of 19.2 per cent has comfortably re-elected Nick McKim. As expected, Labor’s Lara Giddings comfortably outperformed party colleague Wriedt (10.5 per cent to 7.9 per cent) to secure Labor’s safe second seat, and likely future leader Will Hodgman was the overwhelmingly dominant Liberal with 22.1 per cent from a total of 31.4 per cent. If successful, Goodwin will have won from 4.3 per cent of the vote. Kevin Bonham reads the situation thus:

The Liberals’ Vanessa Goodwin is notionally .055 of a quota ahead in the race with Paula Wriedt for the final seat. This lead is in all likelihood real, since by the time Paul Lennon’s surplus, Ross Butler’s and Daniel Hulme’s votes and the Greens’ preferences have been distributed, Lara Giddings should have reached a quota, preventing any trick results. The Greens’ preferences should benefit Labor to the tune of around .02 quotas, but Labor is also slightly more vulnerable to leakage (6787 votes exposed compared to 5795), potentially benefiting the Liberals by up to .01 quotas. So at present Labor is probably about .045 quotas (c.450 votes) behind. This is fairly unlikely to be bridged on postal votes and Goodwin is best placed at present but it will be several days before this seat is clearer. The fairly low Green vote has made things more difficult than expected for Labor here.

Lyons: The most likely outcome here is a status quo result of 3-1-1, although the Liberals might still get over the Greens for 3-2 if the postal votes favour them heavily. At the close of count on Saturday, the Greens were 0.1 short of their first quota and the Liberals were 0.2 short of their second. Party leader (for now) Rene Hidding is the only Liberal who is clearly home, with their newcomer Geoff Page fighting it out with Greens incumbent Tim Morris. Labor has comfortably returned sitting members David Llewellyn, Michael Polley and Heather Butler, with an aggregate of 52.4 per cent of the vote.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

52 comments on “Slicing up the apple”

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  1. A slight correction William. In Denison, Sturges was elected in 2002 while it was Bartlett elected at the re-count.

  2. I agree the Greens performance was reasonable. Their problem is that they struggle to understand that some voters actually disagree with them, so that any good poll news is read as vindicating the theory of the inevitable Green march to power, and any bad news is discounted. They incarnate the ‘moral middle class’ today, which gives them strength and self-belief but makes them often politically inept. One of my students, a former Green candidate, seemed to think that if only the Labor party would die off the Greens would easily defeat John Howard.

  3. “[The Greens] once again indulged in their tactic of absurdly over-hyping their prospects to a gullible media”

    With respect, I think that’s less true than it appears and the media does a fair bit of overhyping itself. Consider the Federal election – Bob Brown continually hosed down interviewer’s questions about gaining 6 senators, saying the Greens stood to gain between zero and six senators and three would be a great achievement. They picked up two. He also said one million people would vote Green and they got 916000 votes. I wouldn’t say either of those claim were absurd, nor did we fall absurdly short of those goals. Yet just yesterday Glen Milne wrote that Bob said the Greens would get six and that they got one (sic).

    I didn’t track the Party’s Tasmanian comments closely, but again a claim that the Greens could pick up one or two seats doesn’t strike me as absurd, particularly not compared with Liberal press releases talking up of what the Hidding Government would achieve in its first term :^)


  4. Thanks Antony, I’ve corrected it.

    You may be right Darryl, but that’s not how I remember it. Perhaps Bob Brown was not the culprit and it was the party more generally, which has more than its share of excitable young enthuasiasts. I’m thinking in particular of the talk that they might win a Senate seat in the ACT – they didn’t and never will.

  5. I’d also like to pass comment on the Greens’ high expectations for six seats.

    There were at least three opinion polls, all with samples of 1000 or above, which showed Green support at between 20-23% in the three months prior to the election and during the campaign.

    While sample sizes of the electorate breakdowns was quite small, and therefore fairly unreliable, averaged out it showed the Greens in the high 20’s in Denison and close to a quota in Braddon.

    It was only in the last week of the campaign when the advertisements from the Bretheron cult and the business community really started to crank up that Green support appears to have fallen.

    There were also tactical errors from the Greens, but their hopes for six seats at the commencement of campaigning wasn’t at all pie in the sky stuff.

  6. It is my theory that the opinion polls will always over report the green vote, this is because of the following reason

    When ask by an attractive young thing, or by a person on a phone some people want to show how “culture” they are and how they are into human rights etc, so they are more likely to say I want to vote the “greens” and

    When a poll does not matter they are more likely to “kick” the major party by telling them that they won’t follow them, but when it is time to vote, a person will be more likely to make sure either labor or liberal will not get in power, rather than vote the greens

    The greens are what they are, they are a far left protest party, very simular to the god-botherers, with policies that can quash jobs and send the country into an recession. They do not need any help in lowering their own vote

  7. Oh come on dovif..try to be a little bit more intellectual in your analysis! This is a thinking site, so try to blend in.

    I don’t want to get too off topic here but it was the majority Gray government of the 80’s which sent Tasmania to near bankruptsy, and it pushed Tasmania into recession for almost a decade thereafter. It took two minority governments relying on Green support in the 90’s to bring the state’s finances back into the black.

    And as far as Green influence is concerned, I suggest they have done more at branding Tasmania’s reputation as a ‘clean, green’ island and stimulating alternative industries and jobs on the back of our new found compeitive edge than any other political party has ever done.

    Then again, they are just extreme left, dangerous tree huggers to some – no matter what they do and say, some people will always be content in taking a one-eyed view of them.

  8. Lee

    Quite on the contrary, I think it is the Greens who always comes up with populist far left policies, who have not quite through out their policies before going public with them

    For example
    Kyoto accord and being pollution free (pollition tax etc)- while I agree that pollution will eventually harm our civilization, there need to be more research done, before we reduces pollution.

    As most scientist will tell you, the only thing thing that is stopping global warming from taking hold, is global diming, the new pollution we projuce cast a blanket over our earth and thereby prevent sun ray from coming in.

    Completely stopping pollution is not the answer, it will cost jobs and ACCELLERATE global warming, what is needed is extra research and a way to let CO2 escape from our atmosphere.

    Legalising Marijuana, just because it is one of the least harmful drugs, it should be legalise …. good we will help the kids start on drugs …. did anyone mention the side effects?

    And don’t get me started on border potection …ie just let everyone in to use our welfare system and medical system ….. I am guessing that money grows on the green tree

    All the green ever have is populist policies, pollicies to lure people who have not really throught about all the effects of what they are suggesting, but like something at first glance, without properly thinking it through

  9. dovif, you might want to read the policies before you dig yourself into a hole.
    Marijuana was going to be legalised for medical purposes and so it would be treated as a health problem instead of a criminal one. Zero tolerance doesn’t work.
    Pollution EVENTUALLY harm us? It already is harming us. As for global dimming, only about 2% of scientists still think this is real. (if that)

    As for those other comments, from your track record on policy, you are wrong there too.

    Try thinking for yourself instead of just taking Andrew Bolt’s rambling as gospel

  10. Getting back to psephology rather than debate about the policies, dovif’s claim that “the opinion polls will always over report the green vote” is clearly wrong. Just look at the South Australian result.

    Dozens of polls taken, but not one overstated the Green vote in the lower house. (True the one upper house poll I saw did, but it overstated everyone other than Xenaphon). Two last minute polls had the Greens about right – 6% as against the vote of 6.3 (may shift slightly with postals and absentees). Howver, most previous polls had the Greens on 4%, one on 2%. Similarly, the Greens vote in most if not all electorates was higher than the polls our good host placed on the site.

    If you look back a bit earlier you will certainly find some elections where the polls overestimated the Green vote – notably 2004 federal and 2003 NSW, but there are plenty of counter examples as well.

  11. Rant=on

    The main problem with the Greens, and why they will never exceed the cap they seem to have hit, is that they think they’re on a religious crusade, and they genuinely don’t understand why people wouldn’t support them. In many ways they are the mirror image of parties on the Right like the Christian Democrats.

    I think the Greens do hold a valid place in the political spectrum but I can’t see them filling the void left by the Democrats because the same level of pragmatism just isn’t there. People on a crusade don’t tend to be very flexible with their ideals (“follow us or die!!”).

    I reckon this is also why Xenophon did so well in SA – although he has core beliefs he seems to show a willingness to act as an honest broker and consider an argument.

    If the Greens were to dump their socialist/marxist leanings and become a genuine environmentally and socially progressive party (as distinct fro ma socialist party) they would be able to capture the centrist ex-Dem vote. Dump the Kerry Nettles and Syvlia Hales and I might consider voting for you!!


  12. Allegory, as a member of the Greens in Vic for almost 10 years, I agree we need to get rid of the marxist element. However, it is a rather small element of the Vic Greens(that I’ve noticed), and most of us dislike being labled as a socialist party. I for one hate socialist agendas, and try to be a broker while keeping to our core principles.

    As I know this is all way off topic, maybe our wonderful host could give us a thread dedicated to the pros and cons of parties and independents.

    Just an idea

  13. The reason the Greens and other fringe parties will never get into government in their own right is simple – if their policies start proving very popular the mainstream parties will adopt them. Because they are small their people will rarely be sufficiently professional to allow them to grow big enough to give a full policy spectrum, so, they will remain where they are, advocating different policies from the edges. Their greatest success will be in getting their policies adopted by the mainstream parties.
    They have a place, and it is an important one, but that place is not governing in their own right.

  14. deewyn,

    I would like to know where you got the info in relation to global diming, one of my friends actually just return from a conference (2 months ago) in America in relation to it.

    Over the last 20 years, the highest recorded increase in temparature in the world occured in the Indian ocean and over the Artic/scandinavia and Antartic and the scientist is of the opinion that the reason is the lack of pollution in those area.

    The day which the scientist recorded the highest variant in temparature in the US in the last 10 years occured on 11/09/01 and 12/09/01, when all the Jets over the US was grounded.

    I guess you must think the scientist there were the 2%. So before YOU make a fool of yourself, get your facts right

    Typical greenie, single agenda, if the mainstream disagree with you, they must be bastards/uneducated/stupid etc. That is why no more than 6-7% of people in Australia will ever vote the Greens

  15. Andrew Reynolds makes a valid point as to why the minors will never govern, as it is well known that both the ALP and the Coalition will adopt sensible policy when it comes up.

    But isn’t that a win for those minor parties when their policy is adopted?

    We’ve seen it on both the conservative (One Nation and migration) and socially progressive sides of politics (the ALP conservation policy in the 87 federal campaign).

    Bask in the glory when it happens and know that you do make a difference. However don’t complain when you’re not seen as a viable alternative to govern.

  16. The greens and minor parties only provide comfort for their idealogues and fanatics and offer the opportunity for voters of the majors to deliver a kick if they think their party has taken the eye off the ball.

    The greens in particular will never attract the votes of the majority of voters because of some of the wacko, leftist feel-good policies they continue to throw up to satisy thier hard core element.

    The whining by peg putt on Saturday night blaming the bullies for giving the greens a hard time is typical of the greens. It’s never their policies that stops them, it’s somebody else to blame, usually the electorate for not being clever enough to embrace all they stand for.

    Perhaps the electorate is smarter than the greens think they are.

    And I loved the report about how peg thought about getting all the mobile phones replaced before they lost major party status and access to this perk.

  17. Agreed. Everything except that the major parties adopt the minor parrties “sensible” policies. I think it more accurate to say that they adopt “popular” policies.

    Without wanting to argue policy in one way or the other, I think its a little subjective of you to argue that the Pacific Solution, for example, was a “sensible” solution. It did nothing to prevent the root causes of illegal immigration, but nonetheless cost many hundreds of millions in excess of what Australian mandatory detention would have cost. It was however, immensely popular (according to opinion polls). I could set out several other examples, but I think my point is clear.

  18. I agree beach ball and Andrew, it is a great victoy if the major parties pick up our policies, but unfortunately 87 was a long way back, and despite the rising Green vote, the ALP doesn’t seem to be doing much.

    Dovif, I get my information from Science magazines and the UN stats centre. As for single issue, that is far from true for me or the Greens.
    Also, please spell my name correctly as I have for you.

  19. And one more point, the main reason why the Greens will stuggle to replace the void left by the Democrats is becasue the Democrats drew (I don’t think I need use the present tense any longer) about half their support from small “l” Liberal voters. The Dems began life afterall, as a splinter from the Liberal perties. Moderate Liberal supporters are hardly as lilkely to vote Green in the Senate.

  20. Paul the Red,

    Thats probably why the Dem’s declined too… In 2004, the Democrats joined the “Not Happy John” Bandwagon, which I am sure would have made some people lose faith in their “honest broker” status, which they still had in 2001.

  21. Dovif, could you please provide a reference that “most scientists” believe in global dimming?

    Regarding drugs policy, have you heard of the harm minimisation approach?

    Regarding border protection, I hope you don’t believe John Howard’s claims that anyone entering our borders is a “queue jumper”. The Greens policy statement says “The current system of mandatory detention places us in breach of international obligations and violates the fundamental human rights of asylum seekers.” The Greens prefer a compassionate approach to our fellow human beings.

    I think you will find that if you ask questions about Greens policies you’ll get a better understanding of why they are the way they are.

  22. here are some quick links that I found, if you want the conference papers, let me know.

    I am still waiting for either Deewun’s appologies or his article stating that only 2% of scientist believe in Global diming. If you need help, I am happy to scan you megazine artical.

    I have heard of harm minimumisation, but how much research has been done in it. There are plenty of people in Europe, who goes to Amsterdam to buy drugs, do we know how many people had been led to use harder drugs, because the were introduced to “soft” drugs because of “harm minimisation” and how many people would not have taken up drugs at all.

    The word “harm minimisation” means to harm someone to make sure they do not do a lot of harm, isn’t the higher goal – no harm at all.

    I do not think they are queue jumper, but people in Africa and the middle east are being told that if they come to Australia illegally, they will be given the dole, free food, free education for their kids, and the Greens seem more than happy under such a scenario. The problem being that our state system of health/education/welfare etc are almost on the level of collapse already, and we should not expect taxpayers to further fund these illegal immagrants.

    If they are refugees, and the first place they went to was Australia, it is Australia’s international obligation to accept them, this happened in East timor and in Vietnam. However if they are refugees and they went to Singapore first and then Indonesia, but wants to come to Australia, because they get a better deal in Australia, these people are not our responsibility.

  23. Tman says “I think you will find that if you ask questions about Greens policies you’ll get a better understanding of why they are the way they are.”

    More importantly you’ll get an even better understanding of why the majority of voters don’t vote for them.

  24. This thread is a little strange is some ways, but the strangest part is that supporters of the Greens are questioning Global Dimming, while an opponent is defending it.

    For the record, I am not an atmospheric scientist, but I did write what may have been the first article about global dimming to appear in a popular science magazine, and I’ve followed the topic with interest. Most atmospheric scientists accept that global dimming is happening to an extent, although there is considerable debate about how important it is. This should not be confused with the tiny minority (probably much less than 2%) who believe that global warming is not real – they are seperate, although somewhat related effects.

    However, the existance of global dimming represents a very strong arguement FOR Greens policies, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. There is reason to believe that global dimming, resulting from pollution in Europe, was one of the main causes of the horrific droughts that killed millions of people across Africa. Green policies of reducing pollution would have saved vast numbers of lives. There are grounds to suspect that similar pollution from China (driven in part by Australian coal) could have similar effects in South-East Asia.

    True, stopping global dimming will accelerate global warming, but if we don’t we are likely to have equally serious consequences, but probably sooner. The only sollution is to radically reduce both CO2 emissions and other forms of pollution. The Greens (plus the remnants of the Democrats) are the only ones who are taking this seriously. That said, non-CO2 pollution emitted in Australia probably makes relatively little difference to global dimming.

    Personally I prefer to stick to psephology on this site and away from arguing the issues, but when you tread so closely on a topic I’ve been studying for years you’ll get a rave.

  25. When new parties start it seems, going on history, that they only have a small window to get major party status or they will never achieve it.

    The Liberals started in the late 40’s and a few years later Menzies won his first election. The ALP started in the early 1900’s and had minority government in 1908 and majority government in1911. This would be like if the greens started in 2000 and won minority government at the next election.

    I was wondering if anyone knew of examples contrary of this, were minor parties existed for a long time and then became major parties

  26. Does anyone know the history of the Lib-Dems in the UK? How long were they a minor party before they came to prominence? Did they attract sitting members from other parties?

    I feel there is definitely a market for this type of party in Australia. Whilst reasonably sympathetic to the Greens myself (and sickened by the ignorance of people who buy the major party propaganda about Green ‘extremism’, which is just nonsense), I do feel that they are hamstrung by several factors.

    One, strangely enough, is their name. They may have legitimate alternative policies on a range of issues, but by being named after a particular issue they seem to suffer from a significant percentage of people immediately assuming that they are a single-issue party.

    Another is that there are certain policy areas where they are arguably too dogmatic. Forestry is a prime example – I can’t help but think that Greens policies focusing on developing viable alternative forestry industry policy would be more likely to attract votes somewhere like Tasmania than focusing on the negatives of logging (from relatively disinterested aspirationals and union types, anyway). Likewise the perceived stance of the party on multidimensional issues such as genetic engineering, trade and nuclear energy do not help in light of the extremist label they seem to be struggling to shake off.

    Nevertheless, anyone who thinks the Greens got a fair shake in Tasmania is simply fundamentally ignorant of the way the political game is played. I think Putt showed incredible restraint throughout the campaign as the Greens were systematically attacked and marginalised and essentially forced to campaign against a unified Liberal-Labor bloc.

    Labor’s refusal to attend the debates if the Greens were invited was anti-democratic in the extreme and a dark day for Australian politics. If Labor has superior policies, why are they afraid to debate them in an open forum rather than hiding behind their army of spin merchants?

  27. Both of tim’s points are questionable.

    In the case of the Liberals, the Liberal Party was for all intents and purposes just a cosmetic makeover of the earlier United Australia Party, which was a makeover of the earlier Nationalist Party, which was a makeover of the earlier Liberal Party, which was itself just a merger of Protectionists and Free Traders. Menzies’ ‘creation’ of the Liberal Party is semantics; a united Liberal Party has existed in Australian politics for 96 years.

    And in the case of Labor, the ALP’s first branches started in 1893 and only gained minority government 11 years later. This is an exceptionally short time, granted, but it should be noted that Labor were tapping into a large amount of working class discontent with the other major parties. The Greens have not managed to do this, to any large extent.

    My point is that it is EXCEPTIONALLY hard to form a major party; the most recent party to be formed that could be considered ‘major’, barring cosmetic makeovers of existing parties, was the Country Party 84 years ago. Unless one of the parties releases a baby-eating policy, I can’t see the Greens growing to pose a significant threat to either major party.

  28. The Liberal Democrats were formed by a merger of the Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party in 1988. To the extent that it is the inheritor of the Liberal Party, it could hardly be called new – its was one of the two major parties in the 19th century (the “Whigs”, in opposition to the conservative “Tories”) and was the party of prime ministers including William Gladstone and Herbert Asquith. The Social Democratic Party was a breakaway from the Labour Party formed after Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, and was formed by people who believed Labour was going too far to the left under the leadership of Michael Foot.

  29. It’s true that the formation of a genuinely new major party is very hard, not just in Australia but anywhere. Most examples only occur when a pre-existing major party collapses, although the Lib-Dems do have a case. For all their history as a major party up to the 1920s, they had been in the wilderness for 60 years before getting it together more recently.

    However, one of the interesting things about new parties is that most do best at their first election – after that it is all down hill. In most states this was true of the DLP, and more recently One Nation. The Democrats broke this pattern to some extent, but only once exceeded their 1977 federal vote, and never recovered their success in winning a lower house seats in South Australia and Tasmania at early efforts. There are countless much smaller parties who have declined from their first attempt.

    The Greens have certainly run against this pattern. Federally they scored less than 3% in their first three runs, then went to 5% and then over 7%. Some of this was accounted for by running in more seats, but not most.

    Likewise in every state other than Tasmania their most recent run was their most successful, and in Tassie their 2002 result beat the original 1989. Nor does this seem to have been a flash in the pan – the general trend in most states has been rising.

    This isn’t terribly surprising – the Green vote is heavily skewed towards younger voters, but they have generally managed to hold onto those people as the population ages. Consequently, the segment from which they are drawing their votes (predominantly those born post 1965) is growing.

    Unless there is a split or scandal I expect the Green vote to generally follow an upward trend. In Tasmania this will inevitably lead to major party status, if they don’t have that already. In other states it is not so clear – if the Green vote averaged an increase of 2% per election it would be a long time before they were a major party on the mainland, so they will need to step up the rate of growth, which is harder to predict.

  30. If you are looking for a recent example of a party that shot from nothing to major party status, see the Reform Party of Canada.

    – 1987 founded
    – 1988 achieved 2.5% at election, no seats won
    – 1993 52 Seats won at election, becomes official opposition party

    It eventually transformed into the Alliance Party then merged with the decimated Progressive Conservatives to form the Conservative Party, which won the recent elections and is now the Government.

  31. Looks like we have a winner..

    Speaker: Do you know the circumstances that led to the reform party becoming a major party? (ie did a similar idelogical placed party fall apart giving them a boost in support, or what)

    As for other cases, id take a punt that in the left side of italian politics where there are 5-6 parties in a coalition, that several of those party’s would of ebbed and flowed from minor to major (atleast within the coaltion).

    Only other party i could suggest would be parties such as communist parties that took a while to become a dominant power. (once again just a hunch)

  32. I don’t have the figures on me but as for parties that shot from nowhere to Government…

    Forza Italia on Italy in the 1990s, went from nothing to Government in a matter of months (bankrolled by Silvio Berlusconi, richest man in Italy)

    Law and Justice Party in Turkey, went from nothing to Government in 2 or 3 years. They won the last Turkish election, not sure if they had any seats before that.

    Thai Rak Thai party in Thailance, again went from nothing to Government in one shot pretty much.

  33. Yay for Wikipedia. Here are the figures.

    Forza Italia founded in December 1993. In Government in March 1994 (admittedly in a Coalition, but it was the lead partner).

    Justice and Development Party in Turkey. founded in August 2001, in Government 2002.

    Thai Rak Thai founded in 1998, in Government in 2001.

    We can probably add Kadima in Israel to the list, founded in 2005, probably in power later in 2006.

  34. Also German Greens, founded sometime between 92 and 96, junior partners in government from 98-2005. I think they may have been a senior partner in one of the provinces as well. The big difference between the German Greens and most other Greens is the fact that they had a split between realists and idealists. Dont know much more then that though.
    However, there is/was a Green PM in Latvia I think it was very recenty.
    Just as a point of reference, there were no Green parties befor 1992, there were Green independents (Tas), but the official party wasn’t started till 1992, although the Green Independents were informally know as The Greens since at least the Accord (89-91ish).
    Actually, thats probably the best record. the Tas Greens were minor partners in a government before their name was the Tas Greens. They were known as the Green Independents. (Thats the ticket they ran on)
    Thats 3 year before formation.

  35. I asked the question about the success of minor parties in response to Andrew Reynolds comment that

    The reason the Greens and other fringe parties will never get into government in their own right is simple – if their policies start proving very popular the mainstream parties will adopt them.

    I figured that mainstream parties must have come from somewhere and looking at history it seemed that new parties with new policies have a relatively short amount of time to become major parties before their policies are pinched by already existing major parties. Best recent example is one nation, the liberals bagged them and then adopted their policies.

    On the latest figures the Libs are now leading in Stuart and Labor is catching up in Mitchell

  36. But… getting back to the numbers…

    Why is The Greens’ swing of -1.9% a disaster and the ALP’s swing of -2.3% a triumph?

  37. The comparison between the rise of the Greens and that of Labor is interesting and I wrote a paper touching on this in 2003. But Labor’s vote stagnated after its early 1890s breakthrough. The rapid rise in Labor’s support from early 1900s is because among other things Labor shifts to the centre, the utopian aspirations of early Labor are forgotten. If the Greens ever replaced Labor it would because they became more similar to the Labor party, just as Labor replaced the Deakinite Liberals by becoming more like the Deakinite Liberals, and in Canada the Conservatives eventually swallowed Reform. Non-Anglo communities provide a Labor core that the Greens cannot crack, consider their poor performance in Port Kembla in Cunningham.

  38. To answer SR’s point – it’s all about expectations and failure to meet (or exceeding) them.
    The Greens were talking themselves up to increase their primary vote share and number of seats (to 5-6. presumably by winning 2 in Denison). Polling even a few weeks out of the election suggested they should improve on their result last time. Therefore, going backwards on the day (in both vote share and seats) is a bad thing, although perhaps not a “disaster”.
    Equally, the Labor party was talking about a primary vote result in the 30s a few weeks out and being lucky to win 10-11 seats. To pull that back to almost winning a majority of the primary vote and 14-15 seats is a “triumph”. Or more specifically, to only drop 2.3% when a drop of 10-15% was anticipated is a much better result than they had a right to.
    You can’t really compare individual swings like that without putting it in the larger context of the election!

  39. Allegory, as has been shown, every group who wasn’t part of the Green effort were out to get them. Gunns said they would leave Tas if the Greens gained the balence. Most of the rest of the business groups were against them. The Exclusive Brethren were campaigning from the shadows.
    The fact that the Liberals had no real chance of getting a majority, but still campaigned against a minority government of any sort, had them helping the ALP. With everyone basically campaigning for the ALP, I think it was them that have failed.
    The point is that the Greens have not lost a seat, despite all this.

  40. Dave, perhaps that has more to do with the perception (and maybe even the reality) that any minority Tasmanian Government dependent on Green support has been a disaster. It’s really only the Greens who try and pretend that it’s been a successful process.
    I have no doubt that played a part in Labor’s comeback but hey, a victory is a victory, and should opinion polls be believed they made up 10-15% of their vote in the last few weeks. That’s beating expectations.

  41. Re: the Reform Party of Canada – it did spring from almost nothing, but was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time (as always). The Prairie provinces are the historical birthplace of “populist third-parties” of the left and the right, such as the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the Social Credit League. Reform’s first leader was Preston Manning, the son of long-time Alberta Premier and later Senator Ernest Manning, which gave them instant recognition and ‘credibility’. Most of their later gains would be in Alberta.

    Their great success in 1993 was due mostly to the collapse of the right-wing Progressive Conservative Mulroney government over the introduction of a very unpopular GST and an failed attempt to enshirne certain rights for Quebec in the Constitution. The referendum was a huge embarrassment for the government and Reform strongly identified themselves with the “no” case.

    At the General election the PC vote fell from 40-odd per cent to 16% and under FPP voting they dropped from 169 seats to 2. Reform, on the other hand, polled 18% and picked up 52 seats, almost entirely in the Prairies.

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