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Election 2016 reveals the end of the rusted-on voter and the death of the two-party system

Dennis Altman writes in The Conversation (8.7.16) about the 2016 federal election result heralding the end of the so-called ‘two party’ system in Australia, instead showing the rise in support for minor parties and Independents.

‘If Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull need rely upon several independent MPs to form government this will be no more than a recognition of electoral realities. Over the past 20 years there has been a steady decline in support for the major parties, neither of which is able to win a majority of support in its own right.

‘Between them the Coalition parties won just over 42% of primary votes, Labor just over 35%. That Labor seemed to peg level with the government is due to a heavy flow of preferences from the nearly 10% of Greens votes. This is now established as a consistent factor in national elections.

‘As long as preferences flow to the two major parties the current system can provide majority governments. But the past few elections have shown the capacity of strong locally based independents to defeat the major parties. Interestingly they come from a range of electorates, from inner-city Hobart (Andrew Wilkie) to outback Queensland (Bob Katter).

‘This year’s results also suggest that the Greens in Victoria and the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) in South Australia might increase their representation by several seats at the next poll. The increased number of independents in the Senate is partly due to Turnbull’s remarkably ill-judged decision to force a double-dissolution election. But even in a half-Senate election, Pauline HansonNick Xenophon and Derryn Hinch would probably have been elected.’

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