The Null Device

A game of musical seats

After a recount in the Victorian state election, the DLP has lost one of its two seats to Labor, who, in turn, have lost one of theirs to the Greens. So now the upper house looks like: Which means that the cold war zombies' influence on the legislative agenda could be marginal. Given their eccentrically reactionary policies (they make Family First look almost like a bunch of progressives), that can only be a good thing.

Meanwhile, political scientists are blaming the election of this bunch of fusty relics (who are rather unlikely to speak for the fabled Silent Majority Of Suburban Battlers) on the above-the-line preferential voting system used to elect candidates. In short, this system works by allowing voters a choice: vote below the line, enumerating your candidates of choice in order from most to least preferred (and there's usually a good 40 or 50 there), or tick the box of one party above the line and automatically vote according to whatever preferences the party has chosen in its various deals. The political enthusiasts who keep up to date with the details of the preference deals are, for the most part, the same tiny minority of voters who can be bothered to vote below the line; meanwhile, the vast majority of voters tick one box and hope for a result with the flavour of their particular party.

IMHO, there is a solution: make above-the-line voting preferential, allowing voters to rank their parties of choice in order, removing control over the exact distribution of the preferences of above-the-line voters from party dealmakers.

There are 2 comments on "A game of musical seats":

Posted by: Matt C Sun Dec 17 21:56:20 2006

In Victoria, you only have to put in five preferences below the line to be valid, though this is rarely advertised.

The Democrats are pushing for a simple chart of party directed preferences to be present in each polling booth. Their proposed chart is very easy to understand. Preference information is supposed to be prominently displayed somewhere at the polling location, but rarely is.

I agree with you that the best option is to replace the "one above the line" option with "all above or all below". NSW has such a system.

Posted by: Boozy Mon Dec 18 23:38:05 2006

Which party is responsible for Neighbours?