Hung Parliament: OMG!!! Not the End of the World!!!!
All the baloney over a hung parliament annoys me. When we go out to vote we don’t vote for parties, we vote for people. The fact that the exercise of power has allowed people to form voting blocks doesn’t mean that its problem when those people are no longer able to exercise their power. If you believe in the Wisdom of Crowds, then ultimately the more independent votes there are on a policy (which are rewarded or punished by the public voting for the candidate later), the more likely you’re going to get a better outcome.
While the Liberals are saying this is a massive disendorsement of Labor (which it certainly is) it also certainly isn’t an endorsement of the Coalition (who are enjoying a swing of approx 1.8% towards them) – with Denison now likely to go to Labor, the forecast is that Coalition will only now at best equal the number of Labor seats in parliament, but will have more of the popular vote than Labor. From the electorate’s point of view they are equally distasteful (especially given that the parties’ fortunes are floated by the preference flows from the minor parties). The Greens on the other hand have enjoyed the great bulk of defections from Labor. I’d say the mood in the nation is against Labor/the Coalition generally and in favour of a Green agenda, probably with a Labor flavour. A Coalition minority government facing a hostile senate seems inherently unstable, but so too does a minority Labor government with the support of three ex-Coalition independents facing a not-so-hostile senate.
I was in Qld for the 2007 election and my impression of the mood then was “Well, you’ve promised some big things, here’s your mandate, now go and do it”. Labor didn’t. I think that more than anything is the cause of their fall from grace. The feeling was almost palpable when they stepped down from their position on climate change. Had they gone to a double dissolution last year (or an early election) on carbon I think they would have gotten a better outcome, because that’s what they were elected to do. The big swing to the Greens is consistent with this.
I’d be interested to know whether all the energy Labor spent on the censorship regime had an effect as well. At the very least it was an opportunity cost. I would also be interested to see how many votes were below the line, and whether there were more than last year.
Of course, shame on you if you intentionally voted informal. If you don’t like the major parties, vote for the minor parties. In the senate there’s even provision for you to leave out the major parties if you vote below the line. Voting informal doesn’t avoid deciding who should be elected. It just means you delegate the decision to someone else (ie the people who voted formally). If you think voting informally is a protest, then you’re a fool.
Russel Coker suggests that people who don’t take how to vote cards vote informal, but I can’t see how he could have any evidence either way. I don’t take how to vote cards (which always seem silly – surely you can work out what order to put your half a dozen or so house of reps preferences, and for the senate, they just tell you to vote above the line) but don’t vote informal.
I guess the other thing to note is what a consummate professional John Howard was in managing the agenda – although the early years of his Prime Ministership were not as polished.