Labour members of the UK House of Lords narrowly failed to delay the bill to call a referendum on the Alternative Vote for May, 2011. The vote was 224-210 to reject a proposal to refer the bill to a committee for further discussion (i.e. stalling).
The bill would set the referendum for the same date as the elections for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, and some local councils. Labour opposition stems largely from the linkage of the AV referendum to a review of constituency boundaries, which currently favor Labour.
Here is what Yes to Fairer Votes, a pro-AV organization in the UK, says on its “Why vote yes” page:
AV is a small change which will make a big difference.
Just a simple change to what we do on polling day can make a real difference to how politics works in Britain.
The Alternative Vote builds on the current system and makes it better. It eliminates many of its weaknesses and keeps its strengths. It’s a long overdue upgrade to make a 19th century system fit for the politics of the 21st century.
Our parliament will better represent our communities. MPs will have to have a better view of what your community thinks – and that’s because they will have to listen harder to your views.
It’s simple. If someone wants to represent your community they need the votes of the majority of the community. That’s what making every vote count really means.
Say YES! to Fairer Votes. Say YES! to AV.
And now from the no side, where there is an organization called NO2AV, which says it is leading “The Fight for Fair Votes“:
1. Defend our democracy
- A No vote stops minority party voters – like BNP supporters – getting more than one vote when the votes are counted
- A No vote guards against distorting and muddying the debate in marginal seats
- A No vote ensures people vote for who and what a candidate is, as opposed to who and what a candidate is not
2. Keep the power of your vote
- A No vote prevents hung parliaments becoming the norm
- A No vote is a vote against electoral uncertainty and unaccountability
- A No vote puts the power to decide who runs the country into the hands of the people – AV gives it away to the politicians
3. Defeat an unfair, discredited and unwanted change in the way we choose our Government
- A No vote is a vote against a confusing, seldom used and undemocratic system – that even Nick Clegg has called a “miserable little compromise”
- A No vote is a vote against partisan, political tinkering that will stifle the real democratic changes the country needs
- A No vote will defend fair votes and is a call for real reform
In the last UK election campaign, the Labour Party made an election manifesto call for a referendum on the alternative vote (AV). Of course, they made this when it was fairly likely they were going to be out of power after the election, which indeed they are.
Then came the Conservative-LibDem coalition, with its agreement to hold a referendum on AV, something the Conservatives would never have pledged to do had they won a majority at the election. Indeed, the parties agreed to disagree on the value of AV: the parties would each commit to passing legislation to put the referendum on the ballot, but Conservatives, including PM David Cameron, would be free to campaign for a “no” vote on the AV question. The Liberal Democrats, of course, would campaign in favor.
At the May, 2010, election, had there been AV, the LibDem voters would have split their second preferences between Conservative and Labour, but more would have gone for the latter. Both big parties’ supporters would have tended to give second preferences to LibDems. Thus, says Curtice,
The figures suggested that if the Alternative Vote had been in place, the Liberal Democrats would have won 79 seats, rather than 57. The Conservatives would have won only 281, not 307. Labour would have been marginally better off with 262 instead of 258.
However, things look quite different now, six months into Britain’s coalition government. More Conservatives would likely give their second preferences to a LibDem, but fewer Labour voters would do so.
At the same time twice as many Liberal Democrats might prefer the Conservatives to Labour. If voters had behaved that way in May the Liberal Democrats would still have gained most, with 83 seats. But the Conservatives might have won as many as 316; Labour could have had just 223.
The second item suggests that this changed dynamic has not gone unnoticed among Tories. The Independent‘s Political Editor, Andrew Grice, reports that Conservatives are already considering an “informal pact” in the event that AV passes, in which each coalition party appeals for its voters to give their second preferences to the other partner.
An unofficial pact is seen as more realistic than a more formal share-out of seats under which the Tories and Liberal Democrats did not stand against each other in some seats, including the 57 held by Mr Clegg’s party. A formal deal on seats has been suggested by Nick Boles, a Tory MP and prominent supporter of Mr Cameron’s drive to modernise his party. But the Tory and Liberal Democrat leaderships admit that would provoke strong opposition from local party activists and have reassured them the two Coalition parties will both fight every seat at the next election.
It should be emphasized, but is not mentioned in the article, that a “share-out of seats,” whereby there are mutual stand-down agreements between the partners, would practically be required if FPTP remains the electoral system–if, that is, the parties go into the election with plans to continue their coalition in the next parliament, given a favorable electoral result. Obviously, if the parties are competing against each other in districts decided by plurality, they could tip many districts to Labour, as well as be practically forced to stress their disagreements in the campaign.
So AV might not be so bad in Conservative eyes, after all.
There has been a growing recognition in Tory circles since the formation of the Coalition that a switch to AV could help the party’s prospects. [...] Tory MP David Mowat, who had a majority of 1,553 over Labour in his Warrington South constituency in May, said: “If we did have AV and we put Lib Dems second and they put us second, it would be very likely to give us a better result than we might achieve under first-past-the-post. There could be a squeeze effect on Labour.”
The existence of a pact would make it much harder for the LibDems to bargain with Labour after the election in the event the latter party should emerge with the most seats. Making a return of a Lib-Lab pact difficult is obviously in the Tories’ interests.
Current polling looks good for Labour, showing the party within striking distance of a parliamentary majority on around 40% of the vote. Of course, it is only six months into a government committed to deep spending cuts, and Labour has just elected a new leader. Still, the polling is a reminder that the Conservatives could very well have trouble forming a government without some sort of pact in 2015, whether it is pre- or post-electoral. And AV would seem to make a pre-electoral pact more palatable to each party’s activists and voters than would a retention of FPTP.
Not surprisingly, Green support is heavily urban. However, I might not have expected it to fall off as precipitously as it does in most states. There are a couple of cases where it ticks back up somewhat in the suburbs, such as Western Australia and New South Wales. Perhaps those who know Australia can explain.
One comment to Simon’s post says, “It really contrasts how different the inner city left is to the suburban left. I think it is almost impossible for a single party to appeal to both.”
I think it is becoming almost impossible for one party to represent these two constituencies in the USA as well (though here the potential Green base would not be exactly “inner-city,” due to differences in urban demography). Nonetheless, we Americans are still asked to pretend that one party can represent these different “lefts.”
On a related note, I’m still undecided on whether to vote Green or Brown with my non-transferable vote in just over two weeks’ time. And I’m really far from any urban core, out here where folks apparently really like their tea.
Australia’s Labor and Green parties have reached a support agreement. The Greens won their first House of Representatives seat at the recent election. One seat, out of 150, on over 11% of first-preference votes.
One of the provisions of the agreement is that Green Senator Bob Brown will reintroduce as a Private Members Bill the Commonwealth Electoral (Above-the-Line Voting) Amendment Bill 2008. The Labor party “will consider” the bill. Among other provisions, this bill would allow voters who vote for a party ticket in Senate elections, rather than rank their preferences across all candidates running, to rank the parties in order of preference.
The agreement also includes several proposed reforms to parliamentary procedure, including guaranteeing minor parties the right to ask questions of the Prime Minister no later than the sixth question during Question Time. It further stipulates that the parties acknowledge that any of the Green’s policies for the 2010 election can be brought forward for discussion in parliament. Greens will receive Treasury briefings. There will be a “well resourced Climate Change Committee.”
All in all, a very fine agreement. There is just one catch: the Labor and Green parties remain short of a majority in the House by three seats. There are four independents, whose votes could still give the Coalition (of Liberals and Nationals) a majority if they choose to swing that direction.
The Labor and Green parties appear to have combined for over 49% of the first-preference votes, compared to around 44% for the Coalition. Yet Labor and Greens have just under 49% of the seats, despite the use of a “majoritarian” electoral system (and one that is often taken as a model here in the USA), and despite the fact that the electoral swing from Labor to the Greens was greater than that to the Coalition.
(All claims about the partisan breakdown of first-preference votes need to be taken cautiously until all votes are counted, but the pattern of swing is clear.)
Back in December, 2007, I asked if the UK Green Party could win a seat in the next House of Commons election; the question produced an interesting multi-national discussion of Green politics that is well worth reading again.
Now that an actual election campaign is underway in the UK, with the likely polling date 6 May, it looks like the answer to the question just might be YES!
A few days ago The Guardian discussed the prospects of the Green candidate in Brighton Pavilion constituency, Caroline Lucas (currently a Green Member of the European Parliament from the regional PR district that includes Brighton in EP elections).
Given that this UK election campaign is also taking place within the context of a debate over a potential future referendum on electoral reform, it is worth asking whether the Greens’ chances of winning even one seat are better with the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system than with the proposed alternative vote (AV). A recent poll by ICM Research and touted on Lucas’s website, puts the Brighton Pavilion candidates of the various parties with the following vote percentages:
While the “instant runoff” procedure of AV normally can be expected to make the final count come down to the top-two candidates, a field such as this is precisely the sort of contest in which AV might favor the third-placed candidate. If LibDem voters are more likely to give their second-preference votes to a third-running Labour candidate than to either of the top two, the sequential-elimination and transfer procedure of AV could result in a final round of counting between Green and Labour. Then Conservative preferences come in to play, and we are down to the question of whether they tend more strongly to lean towards “anybody but Labour” or towards “safe establishment over new politics.”
In any case, it has never been clear to me that parties like the Greens should prefer AV (or IRV as it is often called in the USA) over FPTP. Obviously, any form of proportional representation is superior to either single-seat system.
Gordon Brown, in The Guardian, makes the case for his bill to mandate a referendum in 2011 on whether the UK should change to the Alternative Vote.
After extolling the constitutional reforms Labour has introduced since coming to power in 1997 (assemblies for Scotland and Wales, elected mayor for London, a Supreme Court, etc.) and calling these ” important changes of which progressives can be proud,” he says:
To be blunt, we need to give politics back to the people.
Two quick reactions:
1. How cynical can Brown really be? His party promised in 1997 to hold a referendum on electoral reform in its first term.
2. If only a “progressive” leader and party in the USA would have such a “blunt” agenda of structural reform.
BBC reports that British “MPs will vote next week on holding a referendum after the general election.” If the bill passes (both houses–yes, the UK parliament is bicameral) and remains in place after the new parliament is elected (under current FPTP rules) this spring, the referendum, likely in October, 2011, would ask voters to approve the adoption of the Alternative Vote in future Westminster elections.
This is the very same issue discussed here on 2 December, so I will simply refer interested folks to that very same thread (which already has an extensive, and sometimes relevant, series of comments).
Those wanting to discuss whether AV is indeed better than FPTP may want to check out (and add to) the extensive thread that already exists on said topic.
Votes are now being counted in Sri Lanka’s presidential election. Various news reports have indicated that citizens from the Tamil minority are expected to side mostly with opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka against incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa. Unlike in past, war-time, elections, Tamils appear to have turned out in large numbers.
This contest is classic presidentialization in action, but it seems somewhat less classic as an example of the “instant runoff” rules that are used.
Presidentialization is manifest in the main opposition party, the United People’s Freedom Party (UNP), having endorsed as its presidential candidate a person with no links to the party whatsoever. In fact, Fonseka was the head of the army, and thus an agent of President Rajapaksa, as the Sri Lankan state crushed the Tamil Tigers (TTLE) guerrilla forces last year. The Independent describes the dilemma faced by the UNP and others seeking the defeat of Rajapaksa:
The former army chief was quickly recruited by an unlikely coalition, made up of the UNP, Muslims, Tamils and some strident nationalists who believed that in the martial, militaristic atmosphere following the crushing of the LTTE, Mr Fonseka with his chest full of medals represented their only chance of defeating the president. “You have to make the best of what there is,” admitted a senior UNP leader, Ravi Karunanayake
If Fonseka wins, what loyalty can the UNP count on? He is an army man, who launched his candidacy outside the party organization, and then was endorsed by the UNP. The UNP surely needs him far more than the reverse. Classic presidentialization.
Not so classic is the way Sri Lanka’s version of “instant runoff” for presidential elections is working in this campaign. Although there are twenty-two candidates, and voters may give a second-preference ranking as well as a first, the contest is very much a two-man race. Most strikingly, the Tamil minority does not have its own candidate, but rather is being courted by the two leading candidates. That seems much more like a plurality dynamic than an instant-runoff dynamic.
It must be noted that the electoral rule in Sri Lanka is not the alternative vote (i.e. STV with one being elected), in which the lowest-ranking candidates are sequentially eliminated until transferred preferences push one of the remaining candidates over the majority threshold. Rather, in Sri Lanka, if no candidate has a majority of first preferences, all but the top two are eliminated, and their ballots are examined for lower-ranked preferences among the remaining two. This is a more literal definition of “instant runoff” but not (I hope) what US-based IRV advocates mean to see adopted. (What to call this variant that Sri Lanka uses is not entirely clear; see Bob Richard’s comment.)
I am curious to know how IRV advocates would explain the absence of a significant Tamil candidate (or candidates of the Muslim and other minorities) in an IRV contest, but rather a plurality-like contest in which minority voters choose the “lesser evil” among the majority’s two candidates. Is it because of the war (too dangerous for a Tamil to come forward, too politically volatile for a Sinhala candidate to appeal for second preferences)? Is it because the rules in use are not the alternative vote? Or what?
(Rajapaksa was elected in 2005 by majority of first-preference votes as candidate of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance.)
In any case, this campaign does not match the “IRV” dynamic, but it most certainly does match the “presidentialization” dynamic.
UK PM Gordon Brown is proposing a bill before parliament that would provide for a referendum on replacing FPTP with Alternative Vote. The referendum would be held by October, 2011.
Of course, there is one big catch: Labour is unlikely to be in government by then, as most indications are that it will lose the general election that must be held by spring, 2010.
From the Guardian:
Ministers, who agreed the move at a meeting of the cabinet’s democratic renewal committee (DRC) yesterday, believe that the prospect of a referendum will have three key benefits. It will:
• Allow Labour to depict itself at the general election as the party of reform in response to the parliamentary expenses scandal.
• Make David Cameron look like a defender of the status quo. The Tories, who are opposed to abolishing the first-past-the-post system, would have to introduce fresh legislation to block the referendum if they win the election.
• Increase the chances that the Liberal Democrats will support Labour – or at least not support the Tories – if no party wins an overall majority at the election, resulting in a hung parliament. The Lib Dems have traditionally regarded the introduction of PR as their key demand in any coalition negotiations. While AV does not technically count as PR, many Lib Dems regard AV as a step in the right direction.
The proposal is itself a compromise:
Some ministers, such as the home secretary Alan Johnson and the culture secretary Ben Bradshaw, were keen for Labour to burnish its reformist credentials by staging a referendum on the same day as the general election.
The prime minister resisted this option because it might have prompted Tory charges that a failing government was trying to save its skin by changing the electoral system for the election after next. The Electoral Commission has also made clear that it does not believe referendums should be held on the same day as general elections.
Speaking only as a political scientist, it would be nice to have another AV system! It also would be very interesting to see how a Conservative majority government, if one were to result from the 2010 election, would respond to the law on the books requiring it to hold a referendum that it does not want.
Sometimes, interesting discussions sprout in the comments that I fear will seem more buried than planted, if not re-propogated here in the main orchard.
Several of us have been discussing the merits of the Alternative Vote (AV), one of several formulas that might fit under the rubric of what American reformers mean by “Instant Runoff Voting” (IRV).
Just this week, I received an e-mail from a political science contact (based outside the USA) who said that he “loathes AV.” At first, I thought the comment a tad harsh. But the more I think about, the more I wonder if it might not fit my own views, with respect to the suitability of the system for US legislative elections (or for the nominal tier of potential MMP systems).
I’m also impressed by the evidence that the effect of AV is to reduce the plurality of voices and parties in the legislature. I used to support use of AV over FTFP until I looked more closely at Australian elections.
Its interesting that the use of runoffs have not had quite the same effect in France.
To which I responded:
Of course, in France there was an existing very fragmented party system into which a two-round system was (re-)introduced, in 1958.
All path dependency aside, there are good logical reasons to expect that a two-round system, especially of the majority-plurality variant used in France, would tend to support a multiparty system, but AV (IRV) would not.
When there is an actual second round of voting if no candidate has won a majority of first votes, parties have much more opportunity to enter as “spoilers” (and all the more so, again, when the runoff is a restricted plurality rule and not 50%, plus 1).
Advocates of AV/IRV often favor it because it avoids spoilers. Yes, and perhaps too well.
This latter comment moved Bob to ask:
By “too well” do you mean that reducing spoiled elections reduces the effect of small party and independent candidates on outcomes? If so, then that’s a good thing for the small parties themselves, because spoiled elections are what prevent people who support these candidates from actually voting for them. Or do you mean that small party and independent candidates win less often? If so, then less often that under what other voting rule(s)?
My response to Bob’s question–and now this is something new to this current planting–is that, regarding his two ways of possibly interpreting what I said about AV dealing too effectively with the “spoiler” problem, I would endorse the first one as closer to my view.
I take a pretty Machiavellian view of interparty dynamics under winner-take-all systems (whether FPTP, AV, two-round, the absurd list-plurality system of the absurd US electoral college, or what have you). I am pretty sure large parties take such a view themselves, when they bother to be worried about the groupuscules that, in most US legislative elections, pass for parties other than the dominant Two. Large parties will take note of smaller when the latter threaten the former. So, go and spoil if you are serious about increasing the influence of small parties. As I have suggested before, that is the most likely route to real electoral reform–a form of PR (which is not, by any means, to suggest that it inevitably leads there).
It is clear from the experience of most FPTP cases that (certain types of) small parties can win seats under FPTP, even if they tend to be under-represented, sometimes seriously (but sometimes not). Of course, the USA is not such a system. It has a 2-party system that is even more solidly so than that for Australia’s AV-elected first chamber.
In the US context, that might imply that AV (or another form of IRV) would be a step forward for pluralism in our legislative bodies. I doubt it, though it is possible. I suspect that it is more likely that AV would enhance the role of single-issue organizations that could make a claim to be able to determine which candidates won through following the preference trail. That is, we might see more candidates, but I wonder about more parties, in a form that is recognizably partisan. If single-issue organizations were more institutionalized in US elections, that would hardly be a step forward.
Maybe my views of smaller US parties and AV are too bleak. I don’t know, honestly. But I am very skeptical of the passion that many reformers have for AV/IRV for US House or state-legislative races. I am actually somewhat agnostic about FPTP vs. AV for these types of contests.* I just do not feel that the difference between them is worth getting too excited over, even if the balance of the comparison is favorable to AV. Which, obviously, I am yet to be persuaded it is.
Beyond that, I’ll just say “what Ed said.” And, so that you do not have to go a-clicking, I will let Ed have the more-or-less last word in this planting (for now). Here is what Ed said:
…the evidence from Australian House of Representatives is pretty clear.
Minor parties such as the Greens, Australian Democrats, and Democratic Labor have existed in Australia and elected candidates to the Senate, which uses STV. None of these parties have ever won a House of Representatives seat in a general election, or come even close. The National/ Country Party has won seats in coalition with the Liberals, though the alliance is so close there is reason not to treat Liberals and National as separate parties.
First-Past-the-Post elected legislatures such as Canada, New Zealand (before the switch) and the UK have all had significant third party representation, from both national third parties and regional third parties. Even in the case of the US House of Representatives the Socialists have won a couple of seats. The PDS, the Greens, and I think also the FDP have won Bundesrat districts at various times. [FDP, I think not; certainly not in recent decades--MSS]
So the record is pretty clear. This could be due to cultural reasons unique to Australia, though its hard to see what the are. Minor parties in Australia seem to be much more accepted than in the US. It could be due to the failure of minor party leaders to cultivate regional bases of support, though the dynamics of AV would encourage that, as these parties can exert influence through second preferences without actually winning a seat in the House. I suspect voters may not want to be in a situation where a minor party is a “finalist” for a seat. Mathematically, its hard for a party polling 10% to get enough a deviation in any one district to get over 50%, but they might reach the 30% mark.
I hope we might have a visitor or two with actual experience voting in AV elections stop by later.
(I still need to address the question of the incompatibility of AV and MMP, which has come up in another thread. I’ll get to it–promise.)
* On the other hand, for replacing two-round majority elections at the municipal level, especially in the case of officially non-partisan contests, the superiority of AV is clear to me. By the same token, it is obviously superior to the “top two” proposal (which would replace the partisan primary and restrict general election ballots to just two candidates, even if of the same party) being floated in California, but then so is the existing two-stage FPTP (once in the primary, once in the general).
Labor, as expected, has won with a projected 88 seats to the incumbent Coalition’s projected 60 in the House of Representatives. On first preference votes, Labor beat Liberal+National (the main components of the ‘Coalition’), 44.0% to 41.8%. The third largest party was Greens, on 7.6%. Of course, the Greens won no seats in the House, but thanks to the use of the alternative vote (i.e. single transferable vote in single-seat districts, or “instant runoff”), their voters’ second preferences may have helped Labor in some marginal seats1 Family First was the next largest party, with 1.9% of the first-preference vote (and no seats).
This is a swing of 22 seats out of 1502, and a very cool interactive map lets you see where these districts are. It is the lower house that determines the government, and thus Kevin Rudd of the Labor party will be Prime Minister, with a large majority in the House of Representatives.
But what is really interesting is the Senate. Australia’s Senate is one of the more powerful upper houses of any federal parliamentary system. It is elected by single transferable vote, with six seats at stake in each state (and 2 per territory). However, most voters tick an “above the line vote” that essentially converts it into a “transferable closed list” PR system. Votes above the line for party tickets that do not elect any candidates, as well as votes remaining for a ticket after it has elected candidates but does not have enough left over to elect another, get transferred in an order determined by the party.3
The use of STV and the posting of detailed results mean that the voters, and their elected representatives and senators, can learn just how the winning electoral coalitions were formed, for any who did not win on first-preference votes alone. The posted results show, in each stage of the count, how the votes were transferred from party to party to produce the final result. These transfers in each state’s senate election can determine the incentives of elected senators to follow their national party leadership or to deviate form the party line, as some senators may owe their election to transfers from voters for parties closer to the other main national bloc. (However, I am not sure how common that is in practice; I did not parse the preference transfers, except for the Greens, as noted below.) It is not clear–at least to me–whether Rudd’s government will be able to have effective control of the Senate. However, it is clear that the method of electing the Australian Senate is a potential model that should be looked at in the USA, as it combines state representation with much greater responsiveness to the federation-wide electorate than is the case with the US Senate.
Of the 36 continuing seats, Labor holds 14 to the Liberal/National Coalition’s 19, Greens 2 and Family First 1. Add them up, and the Coalition still has a plurality, but not a majority: 37-32. The Greens five brings the broad progressive bloc to parity, with the continuing Family First senator and Xenophon having the swing votes. Now, that is an interesting result! I hope a reader can tell us whether this means the opposition will continue effective control of the upper house, or whether the new Labor government will be able to do so. (Of course, these results are preliminary, and even one seat swinging on final results could make a big difference!)
The Australian Senate is a good example of the ability of a federal chamber to combine at once the federalist principle of states’ representation with the democratic principle of responsiveness to the national electorate on whose behalf the federal legislature ultimately makes binding law. Like the US Senate, Australia’s represents the states equally (territories and the capital district have representation, but not at parity). Very much unlike the US Senate, national partisan vote swings are reasonably well reflected in the body. The difference, of course, is that the PR system means even the minority in every state is represented. Additionally, half the body, including seats in every state/territory, is elected at each election, instead of one seat in just around a third of the states at each election in the USA.
In other words, one need not return to the original Madisonian proposal for the US Senate (seats from each state in proportion to its population) in order to represent the national electorate within a federal context. A larger body with elections in all states by a non-plurality formula would preserve the equal representation of each state while making the body relatively more accountable to the federation for whom it makes laws.
We Americans could learn from our friends Down Under.
I will leave it to my Australian readers or others more knowledgeable about that country’s politics to inform us about the extent to which the Australian Senate really does inject state-specific interests into national policy making, as well as what the close result means for the ability of the incoming Labor government to work with the Senate.
Finally, thanks to Tom Round for his several informative comments to Friday’s planting ahead of the election result.
See Braddon, Tasmania, for one example, where the two main party candidates were essentially tied in first-preference votes. Or Hasluck, in metro Perth, where the Liberal candidate had a lead on first-preference votes, but transfers from Greens and others put the Labor candidate over the top. [↩]
So far, with a few still too close to call, only one seat, Cowan in Western Australia, is certain to have swung against the national tide. It did so by less than a percentage point, and in spite of the Labor candidate in this open seat having 42.7% and the Green 5.4%. The Liberal candidate’s 45.8% and the votes for several smaller parties of the right were enough to swing the seat. It looks like a district where a stronger Labor candidate to replace a retiring incumbent could have made a difference. [↩]
Voters who do not want their vote transferred as determined by their first-choice party, or who want to change the order of their party’s ticket, may determine how their own vote will be transferred ‘simply’ by giving a numbered preference rank to each candidate on the ballot. [↩]
These were elected in Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania. The Greens elected a Brown–Bob–in Tasmania with enough votes for a quota, the party having won 17% of the vote. In the other two states where a Green was elected, the party won the sixth and final seat, thanks to multiple rounds of preference transferring that one can trace in great detail from the results posted by ABC. In South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young headed the ticket, which won 6.4% of first preference votes. She was eventually elected thanks to transfers from What Women Want (0.4% initially), The Climate Change Coalition (0.3%), the Socialist Alliance (0.07%), as well as some independents and, ultimately, some Labor votes that were insufficient to elect a third candidate from that party. In Western Australia, the ultimate pattern of transfers was similar. There was a ticket called Conservatives for Climate and Environment, which started with 0.1% but picked up transfers from the Liberty and Democracy Party (also 0.1%). When LDC was eliminated, the CCE votes then went to the Climate Change Coalition, while the LDC went to Democratic Labor (just under 1% on the first count). When Climate Change votes needed to be transferred, both their votes and those of CCE went to the Australian Democrats (1% on first count). Must of the original Democrats vote total eventually went to the Greens, while those votes the Democrats picked up from CCE went further rightward once the Democrats were eliminated. Much further rightward: Family First. Those votes, as well as most of those that were originally with Climate Change ultimately wound up with the Christian Democrats, whose final votes gave them .71 of a quota at a point at which the Greens had .75. What put the Greens over the top was a half quota’s worth of votes from Labor on the last count. In other words, the Greens owe the final margin to Labor votes and not to voters who preferred right-leaning small parties that had some signal of concern for the environment in their party name. [↩]
Today’s [yes, Saturday is already "today" in Australia] federal election will show whether Prime Minister John Howard’s strategy to fight the election on economic terms has paid off, or whether Australians will decide to go with the new leadership team of Labor and Kevin Rudd. [...]
The contest is not only tight in the 150 House of Representatives seats – there is also a dramatic battle for the Senate.
The Greens hope to pick up a seat in the ACT from the Liberals, which would immediately strip the Coalition’s Senate control.
This poll will also determine the future of the Australian Democrats.
I will shortly be off line till some time Sunday, my time. So I will leave this as an open thread for anyone following the results.
In addition to this thread, there have continued to be comments regarding the election in previous threads (including “The time has come”) on Australia and STV. See “propagation” on the right sidebar for the latest contributions.
As always, thanks to my readers in (or interested in) Australia for keeping us up to date.
“Christians cast first stone” is the title of an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about negotiations for preference exchanges before Australia’s general elections this Saturday.
Relations have soured between two small parties, Family First and the Christian Democrats, and the incumbent Prime Minister, John Howard (Liberal party) took part in the discussions. (He needs all the vote transfers he can muster–and then some.)
Family First had been pressing for a national preferences deal in which the Liberals would direct Senate preferences to Family First Senate candidates in all states in return for the Christian-values party’s lower house preferences.
But after the talks between Mr Howard and the Reverend [Fred] Nile [CDP leader], the NSW Liberal Party broke with the national deal, putting the CDP in first place in its list of candidates to receive its preferences, followed by Family First in second place.
In retaliation, Family First dropped the CDP to ninth place on its preferences distribution list, ranking it lower than the Liberty and Democracy Party, the Climate Change Coalition and Pauline Hanson’s new party.
But Family First still favours the Liberals in NSW ahead of Labor and the Greens.
The Liberty and Democracy Party “supports voluntary euthanasia” and “opposes regulation of gun ownership and anti-smoking laws in restaurants, pubs and clubs. It supports legal recreational use of marijuana by adults.”
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4