Hmmmm, what happens next?

Ever get a sense of deja vu around election time? There are plenty of things which repeat themselves each and every time - debates about the debate, accusations of ABC bias, scaremongering on budget defecits... and Green's preferences negotiations. This is one of the lamest, most predictable exercises in politics, but for some reason the major parties get caught up in the environmental bidding war every time.

Here's how the stragegy works: the Greens talk themselves up as being the Next Big Thing, with good polling, money to spend, and a wave of support going their way. They make themselves out to be the kingmaker, the ones who won't get into government, but whose preferences will be crucial to deciding who does. Then they play the waiting game, waiting to be wooed by the major parties who give a concession here and a concession there to the environment, desperately keen to pick up the preferences. The Greens then go public and talk about how they are "seriously considering their options" and "weighing up the respective policies". And then they preference Labor. Every time. Without fail. Which they were going to do from the start, anyhow.

Bob's shown a clear preference here.


The Greens are the socialists of Australian politics. They are for those who have given up on the Labor party, and find even the left faction to be a bit of a sell-out to liberal-democracy. Their natural preference arrangement is to number methodically from left to right on the ideological continuum. The Democrats (although this has been breached in the past), the ALP, the Libs, and the nutty redneck parties. Given this no-brainer, why-oh-why do the majors pretend it aint so??

This is not intended as a criticism of the Greens - they play their poker hand exceptionally well, and manage to provoke policy shifts in other parties that is well beyond what their numbers suggest they should be capable of. It is a criticism of the major parties who seem to have no collective memory of past elections. They should be smart enough to figure out what the Greens are doing, and call their bluff. Either way, the outcome would be the same. It's just that they can avoid doing the limbo under the branch of a eucalyptus along the way.


Comments

Polly said…
The other point that the media misses on Greens preferences is that typically their voters don't follow their how to vote card.

Speaking of the media and the Greens - Newspoll has the Greens on 6% in the reps at the moment. If that vote holds on polling day, then they've only increased their vote by 1% on 2001, and they are very unlikely to get a senator in every state. Bob Brown is running around saying that they expect to get a million voters, but if Newspoll is close to the actual votes (which it normally is), then they are not even going to get close to this figure. The Greens seem to be
assuming that their senate vote will be 3-4% higher than what they are polling in the reps. Nationally, this has never been the case. Bob Brown did get nearly double the vote of the greens in the lower house in Tasmania in 2001, but he was the exception and that was his personal profile. I'm sure that Christine Milne in Tasmania, and Kerrie Tucker in the ACT will poll high primary votes because of their profiles, but don't expect that the other greens senate candidates to have the same state-wide appeal.

The media seem to be assuming that the "senate premium" of 3-5% that the Democrats have historically gotten in the senate is automatically going to move to the Greens, but there is absolutely no evidence that this will be the case.

I think that the Greens peaked in late 2002 -early 2003 and that they won't pick up a seat in every state. I'm guessing that in the end, the greens will pick up 2-3 senate seats, and that the Democrats will get 0-2 senate seats, with the rest going to the major parties.
Anonymous said…
Perhaps it's my warped mind, but I find that this vindicates voting Green.

The Greens might not end up with many seats in either house, but they do cause the major parties to put more thought into environmental and humanitarian issues, if only to attempt to gain preferences at election time. Without a good voter backing, they would simply not have the same influence.

I don't think the outcome will be the same as you say. Using your words, "they manage to provoke policy shifts in other parties." That can be a significant outcome (depending on the policies).

If Howard agrees to save some of Tasmania's forests, then the Greens will have achieved something (though Howard has a way of forgetting what he promises).

Andrew.
Anonymous said…
Socialists of Australia? Now thats a big call. Surely they are more like the left of the ALP, but socialists generally take a Trotskyist line, and really, the major socialists are the DSP, who happen to have socialist in their name.
Maybe you mean, on a general level, they vere towards socialism.
Well, its not that simple anymore. They have quite a conservative nature to them, hence, conservationist, but they are believers in social justice.
Point out a Greens policy that you believe is socialist, and show me a general thrust of socialism, then I will be able to pinpoint what you mean.

It is true that they put the ALP as 2nd preference, but even more so now.
The Libs are talking Green coz they wish to neutralise the new flow of disaffected LIbs to the Greens side, hense the election of the ALP. The Libs KNOW that the Greens will preference the Libs. That is why they are hitting the Greens at every moment. They may even blame the bomb blast in Indonesia on the Greens kooky policies. Wouldnt want it at all, but wouldnt be suprised.
Beslan was linked to the ALP by Ruddock. Yes, that is what the Libs take Australians for - just a bunch of 1960s ignoramuses who think the BBQ, God Save The Queen and this weird thing called Broccoli from the New Australians is the height of culture
Well, its 2004 and Australians, IMHO, are not that stupid anymore
As someone else said - the first party to gain mileage out of this loses the election. My guess will be the Libs will jump first.

As regards to Polly's comments on the Greens not gaining more Senate seats than 2:
• they need 3 more to become an official party in Canberra - whatever that means
• Senate is a block voting system. I dont know people who dont vote Lib becuase of Sen Hill or Vanstone, or dont vote ALP becuase of Sen Ray or Faulkner. The Senate shows how popular each party is. The polls work better in representing how the electorate feels in how the Senate shows itself
• Its not far fetched to see the Greens get:
- a NSW (not becuase people know John Kaye - they dont & neither do I ) due to strong vote in inner city & general movement to Greens here
- ditto Victoria
- Tassie, as Christine Milne is popular
- ACT, as Polly said
Dont know beyond that. WA is a good possibility, but not Qld or SA, they are Dems & they may pick up one or 2.
Yes, the rest goes to the major parties.
Slightly optimistic, but I could bet a small amount on it (not that I do, but anyway...)
-A. said…
A few thoughts in response to the post of 'anonymous'...

The Greens are the socialists of Australian politics:

- They take a painfully one-sided anti-capital view of industrial relatons, championing the cause of the worker at the expense of societal benefit.

- They are economic nationalists, opposed to free trade and believing in high tariff barriers to protect local economies.

- They are anti-free market, primarily in their trenchant opposition to private health and education, but also in their irrational opposition to privatisation of a range of assets on the basis that those assets are better managed collectively than privately.

As for Senate numbers, 5 Greens will get up this time, to join the 2 elected in 2001, and have a major chunk of the balance of power to themselves. Shudder.

-Ari
Polly said…
Honestly, much as it pains me to say this, but the dems vote appears to
be too low for the greens to get 5 senate seats. I'm still sticking to 2 to 3 seats in the senate for the greens. They'll get close to a quota in their own right in tassie. I'm not convinced they'll get a seat in both Victoria and NSW, in spite of a solid primary vote (they may get lucky and get one but not the other), because they're the hardest states to get good polling booth coverage for.

Victoria has over 1700 polling booths. No matter how much you target 3 or 4 inner metro seats in Sydney or Melbourne, it's not enough to get you a senate seat. David Risstrom has a great profile in inner Melbourne, and is well known in this area for his council work - but how many people outside of the Melbourne Times delivery area have even heard of him? Bob Brown's reach goes further, but does it go far enough out into the growth corridors? Can you see Kath and Kim voting green, especially if there's no one on a booth to give them a how to vote card?

People in the metro growth corridors are going to vote for the major parties this time. I think the greens will get 7-8% in Victoria in the senate, (maybe less if they're swamped by national security as an issue). Even if dems get 4-5%, it's still not enough to get them the quota.

So to sum it up, I think the greens will get a senator in TAS, they'll come close, but may just miss out in ACT, they'll probably get up in WA (smaller state with state mlcs to help them). I have no idea what will happen in SA or QLD, there are independents with profiles (Meg Lees and Hetty Johnson who may each get 1 or 2% which will then be critical as far as preferences go) , plus some minor conservative parties with a following, so they will really depend on preferences. I think NSW and Victoria are huge challenges for the Greens resource-wise. If they're going to win one of the largest states, I think it will be NSW. They already have a senator in NSW who is not up for election who can add a lot to their campaign.

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