It won't be the Labor Party or the Liberal Party who see startling swings towards them at Federal Election 2010. It will be The Greens, as Lenore Taylor explains in National Times :
In 2010 the Greens want to be seen as a mainstream party, not a protest movement in political disguise. They base the claim on their polling and on how they have used the power they have already got.The Greens vote in the recent Tasmanian elections was a whopping 21%. Their best result yet. And this makes the gatekeepers of the traditional Two Party State System very, very nervous indeed.
In the latest quarterly breakdown of Newspoll the Greens are polling 11 per cent, 3 percentage points ahead of their 2007 vote. Even taking into account the tendency for opinion polls to slightly overestimate the Greens' vote, it's a strong position. The Greens now outpoll the National Party in both the cities and in the bush.
And ever since 2007, when they found themselves the largest party on the Senate crossbenches with five senators, after the demise of the Democrats, they deliberately set about proving they could be "responsible" holders of the balance of power.
They negotiated the passage of many critical bills including the government's second stimulus package, which Malcolm Turnbull's Coalition opposed. The Greens also negotiated through bills like the youth allowance and the Medicare levy surcharge. The claim to be mainstream could have a significant impact on this year's poll.
In the Senate the Greens will be pitching to the centre - with a message that a vote for them is a vote for stability because they can negotiate a way through legislative deadlocks.
"We're the ones that made the stimulus package better and then voted it through. Without us there wouldn't have been a stimulus package and we are not going to let that be forgotten," (said leader Bob Brown)
It's going to be a strange election. You'll see Labor hammering The Greens wherever they can, while the Liberals will stay quietish. An unofficial Greens-Liberals coalition may become reality sooner than most political pundits think.
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