The odd couple: Greens and Nationals could hold Vic’s balance of power


The balance of power in Victoria’s recast 40-seat upper house could be split between the Nationals and Greens, suggested an article in The Australian Financial Review (25 August 2006, p.81). It quotes veteran psephologist Malcolm Mackerras as one expert who regards this as possible, based on 2002 election results and subsequent polling.

Complex weighting of "surplus" votes:

# Any candidate who gets more than 16.67 per cent of first preference votes is automatically elected. This is called the quota.

# That candidate’s surplus votes are then distributed according to preferences. However, rather than a simple distribution, they are weighted by the size of the candidate’s margin over the quota.

# That means the preferences of a candidate that clears the quota by a larger margin carry more clout for the beneficiary.

What the tipsters predict:

# Malcolm Mackerras: Labour 19, Liberal 15, Nationals 3, Greens 3;

# Antony Green: Labour 20, Liberal 14, Greens 5, Nationals 1.

The reforms: Under the reforms, Victoria’s 44-seat Legislative Council will be replaced by a 40-seat chamber and the preferential voting system by proportional representation. Eight regions, each with five members, will replace the 22 existing upper house provinces, each represented by two members.

The hopefuls: Players and pretenders hoping to wield some influence in the new-look Legislative Council include the Greens, Nationals, Family First and even Stephen Mayne’s People Power. But winning enough votes could be tougher than polling for a typical lower house electorate.

Traditional power bases under threat: The vast new upper house electorates – one is bigger than Scotland – will dilute the inner urban and rural power bases of the Greens and Nationals as they try to reach the crucial quota of 16.6 per cent of the vote.

Primary vote now vitally important: In the old upper house seats that now make up Melbourne’s northern metropolitan region, the Greens’ most winnable seat, the party polled 16.8 per cent of primary votes, giving it a wafer-thin margin for slippage. This is important under the new system because preferences of candidates who receive hefty primary votes carry more weight.

The Australian Financial Review, 25/8/2006, p.81

Source: Erisk Net  

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