The Greens are getting a reputation for excessive spin and constant claims that they are more popular than reality suggests but ABC electiojn analyst Antony Green argues their vote is substantially on the rise and they are an emerging force.
There is the old joke about lies damn lies and statistics, and analysis of the Greens result in Queensland is actual proof that you can always find a statistic to support your argument. I think it is worth putting in one place all the available numbers on how the Greens performed.
First, the Greens state-wide vote did rise dramatically, from 2.5% to 6.6%. However, they also stood 72 candidates as opposed to 31 in 2001, so the state-wide figures are not a good guide to the increase in Green vote.
So, how about average vote per electorate? Well, that rose from 7.0% in 2001 to 8.1% in 2004. Not bad but not amazing. However, this hides the real increase in Green vote, as the average for this election includes seats where the Greens poll less well. Understandably, in 2001 the Greens stood only in their best seats. Standing in less promising seats in 2004 dragged down their average vote per electorate.
So what happened in the 29 seats the Greens contested at both elections? The Green vote rose from 7.2% to 9.7%. So there was a significant increase in Green Vote, a promising sign for the 2004 Senate election in Queensland.
At the Federal election, the Greens will stand in every seat. If the party polled 8.1% in the 72 seats they contested, and say 5% in the remaining 17 seats they did not contest, most of which were unpromising rural seats, that translates into a state wide vote of 7.5%. That is over half a Senate quota and on the way to winning a seat.
OK, now the caveats. The Democrats will be contesting the Senate election, with a sitting Senator in John Cherry. So expect the Democrats to take some vote from the Greens. Traditionally the Greens poll the same vote in both the House and the Senate, where the Democrats generally poll better in the Senate. On the evidence of past Federal elections, and state elections in NSW and Victoria, voters choosing to split their two votes seem less inclined to split major party lower House and Greens in the upper house. Even in their diminished state, the Democrats may still retain this advantage.
Secondly, Queensland Senate elections are always complicated by having separate Liberal and National tickets. Both would be likely to preference the Democrats ahead of the Greens. Labor would either split preferences between the Greens and Democrats, or possibly direct preferences to the Greens. Which course Labor takes will depend heavily on who Labor thinks will provide them with better preferences in the lower house. With the possibility of winning government on their mind though, Labor may also consider which of the Greens and Democrats would provide more Senate co-operation to a newly elected Labor government. Don’t assume the Labor Party would welcome the demise of the Democrats and the Greens gaining the balance of power in the Senate.
You can also assume that One Nation will also retain a few percentage votes of support. If say the Democrats can get 4% of the vote, and the Greens 6-7%, then which of the Greens or Democrats win the final vacancy will depend on what One Nation do with their preferences, and then the level of support for the major parties.
Basically, if both Labor and the Coalition get 37% of the vote, they have 2.6 quotas. That means at some point, the Democrats or Greens have to get their vote after preferences above 0.6 quotas, or 8.6% of the vote to stay ahead of the major parties.
If either major parties vote is lower, meaning the other parties vote is higher, the party with the higher vote will win three vacancies, the party with the lower vote will win two, and the last standing of the minor parties will win the final vacancy.
If it is Labor’s vote that is lower than 37%, the Greens are most likely to win the final vacancy, assuming Labor does not preference the Democrats. But if it is the Coalition’s vote that stays around that level, the count becomes more complex and One Nation’s preferences become more important. If the Democrats can get ahead of One Nation and then receive One Nation preferences ahead of the Greens, they may leap frog the Greens in the count and get up on Coalition preferences. In summary, the Greens did well in Queensland, but with the Democrats back in the fray at the Federal election, and the hideously complex nature of the Senate voting system, don’t assume a Green victory.
In Western Australia in 2001, Democrat Andrew Murray was behind the Greens all the way through the count, till Coalition and One Nation preferences pushed him over the line. In NSW, Green Kerry Nettle trailed Democrat Vicki Bourne for most of the count until One Nation preferences went to the Greens.
Primary votes are important in the Senate, but winning the final vacancy in each state will be a matter of preference deals with the major parties as well as other minor parties. Both the Greens and Democrats like to portray themselves as somehow pure and above the fray on preference deals, but you can be sure that behind the scenes they will be both be up to their elbows in the blood and gore of preference deals.
Overblown Green claims
By Gretel Green
When Peter Beattie called the Queensland election, the Greens convenor in Queensland predicted the Party could win four seats but this was clearly another case of over promising and under delivering?
Sacked ABC Brisbane morning presenter Andrew Carroll was the star candidate in the seat of Mouth Coo-tha but he would be slightly disappointed with a primary vote of 23.87 per cent which saw him finish third and well out of contention.
In a very unGreen performance, Carroll actually admitted it “wasn’t a very good result” when interviewed by Kerry O’Brien during the ABC’s telecast. The lad clearly hasn’t been inculcated into the Greens culture. If Bob Brown had been interviewed he probably would have claimed the seat and he was trying to talk up a wonderful result on Monday.
Queensland and South Australia remain the two weakest states for the Greens even though they did double their vote to 6.66 per cent with 119,644 votes from the 72 seats they contested, an average of 1661 votes per seat or 8.22 per cent.
However, on average the Greens still proved less popular than One Nation which pulled in 88,589 votes (4.93 per cent of the total) from 51 seats, an average of 1737 votes per seat or 8.6 per cent.
There were 15 Green candidates who reached double figures but the increased vote largely reflected the increased number of candidates and the complete no-show by the Democrats who fielded just one candidate compared with five in 2001.
The average Green vote in each seat was only up from 7 per cent in 2001 to 8.2 per cent this time. It will be a real contest between Democrat incumbent John Cherry and Green Senate candidate Drew Hutton for that sixth Queensland
Senate spot in the upcoming Federal election.
The Greens appear likely to do better on primary votes but it will then come down to the preference deals Labor and the Coalition do.
By a Green Watcher
While the Greens are celebrating their gains, it should be noted that a whopping 31 out of 72 candidates didn’t live in their electorates they were standing for, including candidates for high profile seats like Mt Coot-tha.
Nothing like treating voters like fools and just sticking anybody up in an attempt to get a media story. It was no surprise to many Mr Carroll’s comments about Greens lack of focus. Love to have been a fly on the wall for some of the ‘interesting’ discussions being undertaken at the moment. Word is that the hierarchy were stunned by the poor performance and are trying to work out where they went wrong.
Their vote was only up about a percent on last election if you look at working out what they got based on the number of seats they ran in, and still was not as good as their 1995 performance.
What is surprising is the fact that the mainstream press are just swallowing the crap that is being spun at them. Anyway I am sure far more analysis will be done and here is the list of Green candidates not enrolled in the electorate they ran for:
18. Mt Coot-tha
19. Mt Isa
26. South Brisbane
28. Surfers Paradise