Western Australian Senate election: April 5
Sunday, March 23
I’ve finally found time to take a close look at the preferences situation and its likely effect on the result, on which Truth Seekers Monte Carlo simulations offer considerable insight. Here goes:
The result at last year’s election bucked the normal pattern in producing a result of four right, two left, rather than three-all. Within the right and left seat groupings were two separate battles, the results of which were never resolved. Clearly the Liberals won three seats on the right, the third elected candidate being Linda Reynolds, but the last one had the potential to go to either the Palmer United Party or the Sports Party. On the left, it was not clear whether both seats were won by Labor, or if Scott Ludlam held his seat for the Greens at the expense of Labor’s Louise Pratt. The major determinant of the left’s weak showing was a low vote for both Labor, down 3.11% on an already poor result in 2010 to 26.59%, and the Greens, down 4.47% on a strong 2010 result to 9.49%. Even when supplemented by the vote for smaller parties commonly reckoned to be part of the left, mainly the Sex Party (1.49%), Help End Marijuana Prohibition (1.06%), Wikileaks (0.75%), Animal Justice (0.74%), the total left vote was only 40.3%, or 40.6% if the Democrats are deemed to count. Either sum is a fair distance short of the 42.86% required for a third quota.
However, the situation was more complicated than usual due to both the high micro-party vote, and the extent to which micro-parties of left and right directed preferences to each other rather than larger parties of closer ideological proximity, a phenomenon largely attributed to the deal-making prowess of Glenn Druery. This was generally to the detriment of the left, particularly on the scenario in which preference-harvesting success story the Sports Party emerged triumphant at the final count. Among the parties contributing to the Sports Party snowball were the Sex Party, HEMP, Wikileaks and Animal Justice, whose preferences were accordingly denied to the Greens and Labor. Between the four of them, votes for left parties which ended up on the right accounted for about 4% of the total.
This time around, it appears the Sex Party, Wikileaks and Animal Justice have been stung by the controversies that attended their earlier pragmatic and/or perverse preference judgements, as each is running more conventionally left-wing tickets. Had they done so in September, the Sports Party would have been unable to make it to a quota on any scenario. Only HEMP (1.06%) looks to be on board the Glenn Druery train, with the main left parties buried deep down its ticket. With the potential for leakage thus reduced, it will only take a swing from right to left of 3.5% to convert last year’s four right, two left result into three-all.
On the right side of the ledger, it should be noted that the potential existed for the preference axe to have swung the other way last September, given the high placing granted to the Greens by Palmer United. Had the aforementioned left-wing minor parties directed preferences to the Greens, the scenario that saw the Sports Party elected would instead have delivered seats to both Louise Pratt and Scott Ludlam, with both Sports and Palmer excluded and the 5.0% Palmer vote shifting from right to left in the shape of a preference transfer to Ludlam. That would no doubt have caused considerable umbrage towards Palmer United in conservative circles. However, in keeping with the generally more straightforward picture this time around, the Palmer United ticket is generally anti-left, putting right-of-centre minor parties ahead of the Coalition, with Labor and then the Greens further down amidst mostly left-of-centre concerns.
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