“I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some and then let them take credit for all of them. And maybe that’s the lesson I learned.”The credibility of the bargaining position of a moderate politician is never as strong as that of a more extreme one. Getting a party to deliver depends on the threat voters will abandon that party in the next election, and on having the right people in the houses of parliament to make it happen. For people who want to be sure Labor will deliver on the emissions trading scheme it has promised, it may be wise to preference the Greens. The risk an emboldened Greens Party again permits the perfect to be the enemy of the good and derails the ETS is not zero -- but almost certainly less than the risk Labor derails or delays the plan itself. Similarly, people who’d like to get tax cuts delivered may be better off voting for the Liberal Democrats than the Coalition. But what if voting for more extreme parties causes polarisation? Voting strategically can be rational for those who want to change Australia quickly. But this could be one of those game theory situations where a collection of individuals acting rationally makes the whole worse. The rise of strategic voting could lead to increased polarisation, as seen in the United States. The famous graphic of voting choice in the US Senate shows how polarisation can grow. In America, polarisation can undermine compromise, silence moderate voices, and lead to frequent government shutdowns. The sorts of stand-offs seen in Australia over wind power and renewable energy could become more common, with consensus missing as the party that has the numbers holds the rest hostage. For now, the major parties are betting that most voters fear this outcome and prefer a more moderate approach. In choosing to replace Tony Abbott with Malcolm Turnbull the Liberal Party rejected polarisation and made a step toward moderation. By choosing Bill Shorten over Anthony Albanese, the ALP did the same. If the 2016 election brings another bumper crop of minor parties heading to Canberra, that strategy might -- for better or worse -- have had its last chance.
Why you should vote for the Greens (or the Liberal Democrats), even if you don’t like them
For people who want to be sure Labor will deliver on the emissions trading scheme it has promised, it may be wise to preference the Greens.