South Australia

Jan 24, 2014

Why the ‘wrong’ party could win SA’s state election

South Australia has tried to ensure its electoral boundaries are fair to ensure the majority party wins government. But it does not always work out that way.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

When South Australians go to the polls on March 15 they should be secure in the knowledge that their voting system promises “electoral fairness”, and that the party that wins a majority is the party that wins government. But that’s not what actually happens.


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6 thoughts on “Why the ‘wrong’ party could win SA’s state election

  1. susan winstanley

    Yes, the “electoral fairness” test for SA redistributions is rubbish and many electoral experts said so at the time, when Andy Becker was SA State Electoral Commissioner. You will recall he was then appointed AEC Electoral Commissioner by the Howard Govt. Nick Minchin really liked his work…

  2. Steve777

    A system if single- member electorates will always have this as a potential problem, no matter how fairly the boundaries are drawn.

    I’ve always favoured proportional representation or MMP. It would mean that most parliaments would be ‘hung’ and horse trading would be required to set up a government and get legislation passed, but NZ and European polities make it work. It would be a parliament that functions as designed. It would be better and fairer than the current ‘winner take all’ setup we have now.

  3. CML

    I thought there had to be roughly the same number of voters in each electorate here in SA, and that removing or adding ‘booths’ on the fringes of electorates was the only way this could be achieved.
    Not sure what you want William. Should we adopt the American Republican Govenor’s little trick of hiving off just those areas where the Republican vote won’t matter, and then adding them to the next county where they hope to gain a majority. Each electorate looks like an abstract painting, with all the machinations that go on to ‘fix’ the system.
    If the current movements favour the Labor Party, as you suggest, doesn’t that mean that there is a greater concentration of Labor voters in these important seats? And that the Liberal vote is very high in a number of rural and high-income areas in the city? As a citizen of SA, that is how it looks to me. Bad luck for those ‘born to rule’, wouldn’t you say?

  4. Unitary State

    In all honestly, I reckon there will be actually be a swing back to Labor this time. The swing last time was highly unusual and I would expect a slight correction this time at the very least. Furthermore, Tony Abbott is a growing drain on the state Liberal vote and the trend is certainly running against them.

    A very important seat to watch is the seat of Adelaide. Its still a long stretch to say David O’Loughlin may win the seat however. I hope he does, he sounds like a man that has much to offer. I like the way he is so blunt about so many things. He rightly advocates for direct funding of local government by the federal government as should be recognised in the constitution. He also has a grasp on national affairs by criticising Howard and praising Keating regarding the anti-intellectual bogan’s black hole this country has become. I take my hat off to him. If David wins, that all but rules out any prospect of the Liberals winning a majority.

    As things stand now with just 7 weeks to go to the election, the result would perhaps be about 23 seats to Labor and anything in between 20-24 seats to the Liberals depending on how the Independents hold up. But in such an environment now where the combined primary votes for major parties is declining and typically under 80%, it would be a surprise for any of them to lose. In any case, I read an article saying some of the independents were peeved of with the Liberals regarding their strategy and increasingly unlikely to support them in a hung parliament.

    The state Liberals have thrown a golden opportunity right in the bin out of sheer political incompetence. A government which was dying of old age has been giving sufficient breathing space to replenish its own ranks and renew itself with new policies being announced last year. Out of the 12 or 13 cabinet members in government, only Jay himself is a member of the original Rann cabinet from 2002. When all this was occurring, the Liberals were off the wheel and absent from most headlines.

  5. Elvis

    I’m with Steve on MMP.
    Or are we afraid of truer democratic representation?

  6. peterh_oz

    Sounds like its time for Proportional Representation, as we have in the Senate (and NZ has). Win 48% of the vote, get 48% of the seats. The 2 major parties will never allow it though, cos smaller parties would suddenly have a small voice.

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