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Where to for voters sold a PUP in 2013?

John Harrison comments in the Brisbane Times (24.4.16) on the likelihood of voters deserting the Palmer United Party at the coming federal election. He asks where the party’s considerable vote share in Queensland at the 2013 election (11 per cent of first preferences, compared to 5.5 per cent nationally) will be directed instead.

Doubts have been raised for some time over the PUP’s chances of replicating its 2013 success, and whether it can again contest all 150 lower house seats. As the ABC’s Antony Green has pointed out, it’s highly unlikely that a minor party will step in to ‘replace’ that many candidates, so it’s fair to assume that much of the PUP vote will filter back to the major parties in a compulsory preferential voting system.

Harrison is right to suggest that former PUP voters will probably decide the outcome of several marginal Queensland seats, and possibly even the election result. But as Green makes clear, it’s folly to predict which way the former PUP vote will head based on preference flows in 2013, because of the unusually large share of the vote (12.4 per cent) which went to minor parties and Independents – pundits expect that vote share to halve this time around, more in line with previous elections.

‘In the unlikely event of Clive Palmer fielding a slate of candidates for the federal parliament as in 2013, he certainly doesn’t appear to have the cash to promote them. And if he did, an alphabet of interested parties would descend on him, starting with ASIC, the AWU, and the AFP. Imagine being a PUP candidate in the Townsville seat of Herbert?

‘So where will the first preference votes of those who voted for Palmer candidates in 2013 go in 2016? Because in Queensland these votes will be decisive in the 2016 election.’

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