Green with Envy

As the election draws near, there is more and more attention being given to other aspects of the contest beyond the Latham-vs-Howard battering rams. Significantly, there is likely to be a big shift in the balance of power in the Senate, and the Browns, sorry, the Greens, are likely to be the big winners.

The ABC ran with the headline "Poll gives Greens Senate hope", and that pretty much sums up the substance of the article, based on a Taverner poll which has the Greens primary vote sitting on (a rather generous) 11% in Victoria and NSW.

The reality is that the three Democrats up for re-election, and Senator Lees, will all struggle to retain their seats, and this will reduce the Democrats to four seats in the Senate. The Greens are likely to take up the slack, and are likely to win a Senate seat in each of five states, to add to the two elected in 2001, leaving them with seven in total (well der).

The logic behind this high Green vote is that they have made a big impact in the public mind, beyond their usual constituency and beyond their usual range of issues.

In most states, the Greens first candidate will be ahead of the ALP's third Senate candidate, and with Liberal, Democrats and microparty preferences likely to flow Green ahead of Labor, the prospects look good. The Greens have got plenty of confidence, an army of activists, a consirable cash kitty (courtesy of public funding in previous elections) and will be running candidates in 150 seats around the Commonwealth to support their tilt at the Senate. The state where the Greens will fall short will be South Australia, where organisationally the party is weak and the ALP will be too strong.

The implications of the Greens having the balance of power are far-reaching, and given the likelihood of the outcome, the Greens will thankfully endure the scrutiny that they have managed to evade for so long.

Comments

Polly said…
Hi Ari,

This is a great blog. (I'd love catch up with you once Olav is better).
Your analysis is good, but there are a couple of issues that could cause the greens to stumble in some
states in their bid for senate seats. Is it automatically a given that the
Liberals will preference the greens ahead of labor in the senate? Surely the last
thing the libs want is to have a greens controlled senate?

I'd also be surprised to see the greens get such a high vote (11%) in both NSW and Victoria. Their vote drops off significantly when you get outside the Sydney and Melbourne latte-belts, and even though they have had a surge in membership, they're still struggling for members in outer suburban seats in Melbourne (I can't comment on how they're going on this front in Sydney). If they can't get good polling booth coverage in these areas, then they're going to struggle to pick up a senate seat (like the Nationals their strength is very geographically based), especially if the usual number of independents run, which will split their vote. I'm skeptical about how many of the brand new greens members are going to be prepared to travel out to Narre Warren or Wyndham Vale to stand on a polling booth all by themselves. They're much more likely to want to spend an hour or two in the seat of Melbourne, being part of what could be a greens boil over in the lower house.

A primary vote of around 9% may not be enough to get them senate seats (Jim Downey didn't get there for the Dems in Victoria in 98, and he got about 9.8% of the primary vote - this wasn't enough to keep Labor out, even with greens preferences).
-A. said…
Hey Polly,

All the best to you and Olev - thinking of both of you.

The Libs will preference the Greens ahead of the ALP in both houses, because the one thing they'd fear more than Greens in the Senate is the ALP getting anywhere close to a workable majority. The Libs also know that in the long term, the Greens are to the ALP what One Nation were to the Coalition, and the longer they can keep the Greens on the scene, the more it will tear up the ALP.

As for Greens resources, you may well be right. They'll be trying to win a Senate set by getting a high vote (above 10%) in half of the HoR seats, and sacrificing the other half as below 5%. It can be done if preferences flow okay for them and the primary vote holds up. You are right, though. Not many Greens in Narre Warren, and Narre Warren's quite a nice place because of that fact.

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