Monday, September 08, 2008

Recent Election Results Show The Two Party System Controlling Australia Is Melting Down

Greens leader Bob Brown thinks the spectacular political chaos thrown up by voters' choices in three elections in the past few days proves that the Liberal-Labor, two party system is breathing its last breaths.

Well, you can only hope so. Australians are getting anarchic at the miserable, pathetic performance of local, state and federal Liberal and Labor politicians. Why else are we now so willing to give the minor parties and independents such a go?

The good news is that both Labor and the Liberals are shitting themselves at the results of byelections in the federal seats of Mayo and Lyne, and the tumultuous results of the WA state election.

Incredibly, the Liberals almost lost Alexander Downer's old seat of the Greens.

Australia's major political parties have been put on notice after all were given a thumping during coast-to-coast elections held over over the weekend.

Until Saturday, Labor had won the past 23 successive state and territory elections.

Yesterday the WA National Party leader, Brendon Grylls, whose party won a better than expected four seats, held talks with the Labor Premier, Alan Carpenter, about forming a minority government - but today he will hold similar talks with the Liberal leader, Colin Barnett.

Buoyed by the result in the west, where there is no coalition, the federal Nationals leader Warren Truss flagged his party walking away from the federal Coalition in a bid to survive. The massacre in Lyne wiped out any lingering joy from the Nationals' emphatic win in the Gippsland byelection two months ago.

Peter Hartcher :

Until only a year ago Australia was the Contented Country. Governments, state and federal, just kept getting re-elected, no matter how bad they were.

Now Australia is the Cranky Country. A cocky government can no longer call an election in the expectation that a nonchalant electorate will casually stamp its ticket for another term.

Since November, an election poses an existential threat to a government. Australians have snapped out of their long torpor, and they are unhappy with what they are finding.

The Howard government was the first victim, falling under the force of a 5.4per cent swing against it. In August the Northern Territory Labor Government suffered a brutal 9.8per cent swing but managed to cling to power by the tiniest majority, a single seat. Now the West Australian Labor Government has lost its majority after suffering a 6per cent swing.

In Alexander Downer's former seat of Mayo the Liberals managed to hold the seat but suffered a drubbing, a 10 per cent swing. In Mark Vaile's former seat of Lyne the Nationals lost to a strong independent.

Interestingly, in all the tat and twaddle now being spoken by senior Labor and Liberal politicians about the election results, they take aim only at each other, and have almost nothing to say about the all too obvious rise in popularity of smaller parties and independents. It's like Labor and Liberal politicians are telling themselves, "Maybe if we pretend all those independents don't exist, they will fade away and leave us alone."

Even when the truth of their fading favour with Australian voters is kicking them savagely in the face, Labor and the Liberals continue to pretend that the very core of two-party control of Australia is not suffering a catastrophic meltdown, when it so very clearly is.