As the campaign rolls on through its final week, attention has increasingly turned to the electoral prospects of the minor parties in the Senate, especially following the Greens’ deal to preference Labor on the mainland, and the likely decline of the Democrats. But what about the the ‘micro’ parties? Why not put them under scrutiny as well? Here is a brief survey of some of the other options you have beyond the more well known minor parties.
The Socialist Alliance
Usually seen hassling people to buy the Green Left Weekly. They have John Pilger’s endorsement and they love Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Want a socialist Australia, an end to US imperialism? The SA (unfortunate initials) is your party. But they are trendy bourgeoisie dilettantes compared to
The Socialist Equality Party
The Trotskyists. They guys are really obsessed with bringing about the revolution and ending US imperialism, and think the other Socialists/Communists are splitters and sell-outs. At least they’re more organised than their old rivals, the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), whose contempt for bourgeoisie parliamentary democracy is such that they aren’t even bothering to stand candidates this time. More likely they can’t get enough signatures together to register.
The Nuclear Disarmament Party
Peter Garrett’s old mob. Only running in the ACT. Since the Cold War ended, only Helen Caldicott gives a stuff.
The Liberty and Democracy Party
Making their election debut, these dudes have taken Ayn Rand’s brand of Right-wing libertarianism seriously. They want to get the government out of our lives, which includes low tax, minimum welfare, legalising euthanasia and same-sex marriage, and they literally stick to their guns, supporting individual firearm ownership (having the sister-in-law of serial killer Ivan Milat as one of their candidates is an unfortunate coincidence). They also want to look at decriminalising incest (a suggestion from their Tasmanian Senate candidate of course!). If they take their Right-wing anarchism to the logical extreme, they may ultimately seek to abolish government, and put politicians out of a job altogether. Don’t say that hasn’t got its appeal.
Pauline’s United Australia Party
Pauline Hanson is back! Having a go again in Queensland and NSW, hoping that nicking the name of the pre-WWII conservative party might generate some nostalgia from really old people. She is the only candidate with the cojones to name a party after herself. Against globalisation and immigration as usual, this time with more scaremongering against Muslims and Africans.
Still desperately battling on without Pauline out of spite. Similar anti-migration policies. Why bother?
The Shooters Party
Teamed up with the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party to uphold Australians’ rights to go huntin’, shootin’ n’ fishin’ no matter what those greenies think. Has some rivalry with the North Queensland-based Fishing Party, which is just concerned with, er, fishing. May split the all-important angling vote.
The Democratic Labor Party
Bob Santamaria’s spirit lives on, although they no longer get automatic endorsement from the Vatican. Actually managed to get a seat in the Victorian Upper House last State election, through a dodgy preference deal.
Conservatives for Climate and Environment
For those who are worried about climate change but still want the benefits of a free-market economy. Has complete faith in business-driven technology to overcome this otherwise problematic contradiction.
The Christian Democratic Party
Fred Nile’s still on his crusade to uphold Christian values in politics. Very pissed off and jealous about Family First getting a Senate seat last time. They were the original hard-core fundamentalist Christians, dammit!
The Citizens Electoral Council
Followers of US conspiracy theorist Lyndon Larouche, these guys are the zaniest of the lot, believing as they do that the British Royal Family is behind an evil satanic plan to enslave the world. This includes running the international drug trade, and being in league with greens to commit global genocide, via the excuse of climate change, which is of course a hoax, also perpetrated by the Monarchy. And you thought the Queen was just a sweet old lady.
The Climate Change Coalition
Headed in NSW by Phillip Adams’ partner Patrice Newell and celebrity scientist ‘Dr Karl’ Kruszelnicki. Perfect for nice middle class people who are concerned about global warming but can’t quite bring themselves to vote for the Greens you know, they can look a bit scruffy.
The Non-Custodial Parents’ Party
Divorced dads pissed off at their ex-wives and the world in general.
The Carers’ Alliance
Despite cash being thrown at carers by the major parties, this new group still wants to keep carers and their families on the agenda. A very worthy single issue and how could you be so uncaring as to not vote for caring?
What Women Want
This group of feminists are hoping a catchy name might attract some more attention to women’s rights. Reminding people of a lame Mel Gibson comedy might not be the best way to do it.
Has the super-modern idea that, if elected, they will vote however people want them to, as nominated via the internet. However, their lead NSW candidate was busted for fraud by ASIC earlier this month, which may be a bit of a hitch in trusting them to actually vote as directed.
Hear Our Voice
Formed by disgruntled Labor Party members concerned about the poor and marginalised in society. Unfortunately, their name describes them too well, as they have been practically ignored throughout the campaign.
HEMP (Help End Marijuana Prohibition)
The Nimbin-based party isn’t running this time around, with the excuse that they’re being ‘hassled by the pigs, man!’ In reality, probably got too stoned and forgot to register.
Barring some freak preferencing fluke, none of these micro parties are going to win anything, so what really counts with them is the onward flow of their preferences.
Looking at the parties’ preference distributions, from their Senate Voting Tickets it soon becomes clear that the micro parties are more interested in stitching up preference deals and taking on their ideological competition.
For example, the Climate Change Coalition puts the Fishing Party ahead of the Greens, The Fishing Party and the Australian Fishing & Lifestyle Party have each other way down their lists, and the Socialist Equality Party (in three different tickets) has Pauline’s UAP ahead of Socialist Alliance. Some tickets, such as Pauline’s UAP, the Christian Democrats, the Carers’ Alliance and Hear Our Voice have their preferences all over the place, following no clearly discernable pattern whatsoever.
Does the distribution of preferences from the micro parties matter? According to the Morgan poll, non-major party support for the lower house has continued to decline, from its 2005/06 peak of around 20-22 per cent, down to 16 per cent at the start of 2007, to about 11 per cent now. This 11 per cent then divides into the two-party preferred vote: 7 per cent to Labor, 4 per cent to the Coalition.
The collective share of the micro vote (ie not including the Greens, Democrats, One Nation and Family First) was 2.8 per cent in the 2004 election, and is likely to be much smaller this time around. If the election is really close, the distribution of micro preferences could potentially matter, especially in determining the outcome of the Senate. But the preferences of the Greens is what will matter most and they will go overwhelmingly to Labor.
Still, if you feel some ideological affiliation, or even if you just respect a real underdog, having a go, why not consider the micro parties? For some of them, you might not get another chance.
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