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Rise in protest votes sounds warning bell for major parties

Danielle Wood and colleagues write in The Conversation (13.3.18) about their latest Gratttan Institute report analysing why the minor party vote in Australia is historically high and growing, as trust in the bigger parties continues to slide away.

'Protest politics is on the rise in Australia. At the 2016 federal election, votes for minor parties hit their highest level since 1949. More than one in four Australians voted for someone other than the Liberals, Nationals, ALP or Greens in the Senate, and more than one in eight did likewise for the House of Representatives. First-preference Senate votes for minor parties leapt from 12% in 2004 to 26% in 2016.

'The major parties are particularly on the nose in the regions. The further you drive from a capital city, the higher the minor party vote and the more it has risen.

'What’s going on? A new Grattan Institute report finds that the minor party vote is mostly a protest against the major parties. It’s a vote for “anyone but them” in favour of a diverse group of parties, often headed by “brand name” personalities.

'So why are Australian voters angry? And why are they particularly angry in the regions?

'Falling trust in government explains much of the dissatisfaction. Since 2007, there has been a significant increase in the share of people who believe that politicians look after themselves and that government is run by a few big interests.'

 

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