Archive for August, 2009


Japan’s election day

I’ve mostly missed coverage about the Japanese elections, which take place tomorrow, August 30. I don’t have much information to add to my previous posts on Japan, except to note that recent polls maintain that the Democratic Party is on track to win government in the first clean change of government in 54 years. Here’s a thread for you all to discuss the election.

Update: reports indicate that the Democratic Party will win over 300 seats in the 480-seat chamber, giving them a clear majority and clearing their path to form a new government.


Bradfield by-election guide

I’ve posted a guide to the Bradfield by-election on the blog, apart from the regular blog postings. I’ve included a breakdown of votes according to each part of the electorate, as well as booth maps for both the Liberals and the Greens. Obviously it will be updated as we get closer to the by-election. Go over there to comment on the by-election.


Nelson resigns, triggers Bradfield by-election

Phillip Coorey at the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Brendan Nelson will resign from Parliament today, with reports of a press conference planned for 2pm. Nelson had previously announced that he would retire at the next election, and Liberal figures had begun manouevring for the preselection for one of the party’s safest seats, but the preselection was delayed until after the redistribution is concluded. Thus there will be a Bradfield by-election this year, and the Liberal redistribution will be brought forward.

Bradfield is a northern Sydney seat, particularly centred on Ku-ring-gai. It has been held by the Liberal Party since 1949, when it was created, first held by former PM Billy Hughes for the last years of his life. It has never even gone to preferences. Prior to the redistribution, Bradfield is the fifth-safest Liberal seat and eighth-safest Coalition seat. It ain’t gonna fall to Labor.

I can’t see any circumstance in which Labor would run in this seat. They avoided Mayo and Lyne after the disastrous result in the much more marginal seat of Gippsland. They simply won’t win, and in all likelihood Bradfield won’t swing as much as we would expect in the average seat. The Greens will certainly run (I say that without any inside knowledge on the local group’s plans, but we always run in these by-elections) and will gain a whole bunch more votes, but we’re not about to win. This isn’t Mayo.

The most interesting element, then, is determining who will be the Liberal candidate. William Bowe at Poll Bludger has summarised the leading candidates:

By all accounts the two front-runners will be Arthur Sinodinos, legendary former chief-of-staff to John Howard, and Tom Switzer, opinion page editor for The Australian. However, other names were recently put forward by Phillip Coorey: Menzies Research Centre executive director Julian Leeser; Paul Fletcher, director of corporate and regulatory affairs at Optus; and David Coleman, an executive with the Packer family’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (last I heard) who is associated with the Left faction and the other side of the town, having run for the federal Cook preselection and been mentioned in connection with the state seat of Cronulla.

Another factor will be if an independent stands. I don’t know much about local politics, but commenters might have knowledge about any figures who could challenge the Liberal dominance in the seat with Greens preferences. It will be interesting to see.

Elsewhere: A quick post from Antony Green.


Map design

So I’ve started working on a project that I will reveal in a few weeks’ time as part of this blog. One of the things I am doing is making booth maps of each federal electorate. I have made three so far, and on each one I have designed the map differently. I thought I’d post them all so people can let me know what is the best way to design these maps.

First, this map is Solomon. On it you can see Darwin and Palmerston. This map is higher-resolution, which means when reduced to the same size as the later maps, the numbers are quite small, and you need to blow up the map to read it’s information. I plan to fix that. But the point with this map is that booths are coloured according to which party won the booth, and what % of the 2PP that party got in that booth.


Next is Fraser. Now, almost all of Fraser’s booths were won by Labor, so I changed the design. Instead, all booths show the ALP % (including those won by the Liberals) and the colouring shows booths according to whether they were more or less pro-ALP than the seatwide total. Does this make sense? Or does it confuse people into thinking the Liberals won all those booths?


Finally, Canberra. In this case, I reverted to the colour scheme of Solomon while still showing all booths according to how much of the 2PP vote Labor won. However, I also scaled the booths according to the number of votes cast.


So what do you think? Which features work best? I plan to do these for almost every electorate in the country (although a few, such as Lingiari, are impossible to show meaningfully in such a format)


German elections

I plan on covering the German federal election, but I haven’t had a chance to consider the state elections happening in Germany before that. Luckily Charles in Germany has posted this comment on the blog yesterday, and I’ll post it here as a new thread:

Hi Ben, I don’t know if you know, or whether your such a psephoholic that you’d be interested, but before the German Federal elections on September 27th there are 2 German states going to the polls on the 30th August, namely Thüringia and Saxony.

I can’t comment much about the state of Saxony, but livingin Thüringia I’ve tried to garner a much information as I can concerning the up-coming poll. The CDU are the incombents in Thuringia with 45 seats in an 88 seat parliament. The newly named “Die Linke”, ie The Left which I’m told are the leftover of the Communist party here in East Germany currently have 28 seats, and the SPD have 15 seats. Politicians are elected by a complex amalgamation of 1st past-the-post and proportional representation (I’m told), whereby if a party gets 5% of the vote they automatically are entitled to at least 6 seats.

The current mister-president is CDU man Dieter Althaus ( He came under some criticism recently when skiing in Autria where he was responsible for the death of a woman, I think becasue he was travelling cross-piste. As he was badly injued himself in the accident, and proclaims to have no memory of it, he refused to apologise, which the opposition here were very critical of.

Of greater interest to you all though is the local Green party. At the last election they fell just short of getting enough votes for representation at 4.5%, but have improved somewhat now with polls consistently giving them 6% or more. Their webpage is:

What’s also interesting is that in polls the CDU have fallen to 43%, which would mean they will no longer be able to govern Thüringia in their own right. The next biggest party are Die Linke, who until a couple of days ago, the SPD swore they would never form government with. Then I heard (and all this is second hand because my Deutsch is crap) that the SPD are willing to go into coalition with Die Linke, but only if the minister-president position goes to an SPD person – to which Die Linke have said ok!

Info on German elections can be seen in English here:

For Thüringia results should appear here:

the Thuringian site also has a very good breakdown of voting in the area for the recent European election.

Only for the real psephoholics though…


SA Greens choosing their next state MP

The South Australian Greens are also in the middle of choosing their ticket for the Legislative Council for the March 2010 state election. The meet-the-candidates forums are currently taking place, and the ballot and endorsement of the ticket will take place in September.

The four candidates are:

  • Carol Vincent – Chief Executive of the SA Farmers’ Federation.
  • Tammy Jennings (nee Franks) – Convenor of the SA Greens, Jennings was on the Democrats Senate ticket at the 2004 election.
  • Paul Petit – Former Convenor of the Australian Greens, Greens SA lead Legislative Council candidate at the 1997 election.
  • Mark Andrew – I don’t really have any info at hand about him.

There are no incumbent MLCs up for election, as Mark Parnell’s term does not expire until 2014. The quota to win a seat is just over 8%, which they should get considering recent polling. Recent polling putting them on a vote of 11% suggests that, with strong preference flows, they could have a small chance of electing two new MLCs.


Draft NSW boundaries map

A week after the AEC released the electoral boundaries, I have finally produced my Google Earth map of the boundaries. This took a lot longer than in the case of Queensland, but that’s because I made a file that’s much smaller and easier to view. You can download it from the maps page. Enjoy.


Sydney’s draft federal electorates. Click to enlarge.


CPRS blues

So the federal government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was voted down today, with all non-government senators voting to block it.

It appears clear that this bill will return later this year, with two weeks of sitting in late November presenting an opportunity. In order to become a double dissolution trigger, there needs to be a gap of three months between the bill being defeated. The first possible date is November 16, with Parliament sitting for the two weeks following, with the last sitting day of the year being November 26.

First of all, it’s worth pointing out that any double dissolution triggered by the blocking of the CPRS literally cannot happen this year. The minimum length of a federal election campaign is 33 days. If the CPRS is blocked in the first of those two November sitting weeks, the earliest possible election day if a DD is called immediately would be Boxing Day. It’s safe to say that this would not be possible, and the earliest possible election would probably be in February, with March being much more likely. This would avoid the possible problem of a DD being called before the NSW and Queensland redistributions conclude in December. Of course, a double dissolution could be called on another bill. This doesn’t even get into all the reasons the Rudd government may not want to use any trigger it gains.

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Plunging Nationals

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of the Nationals, and I thought I would play through some scenarios regarding their future.

When considering the losses of seats through redistribution and election losses in New South Wales, and the creation of the LNP in Queensland, it seems quite plausible that the party could fall below a threshold where it loses relevance to the federal Coalition within the next decade.

Read the rest of this entry »


NSW Redistribution Wrap

After today’s announcement of the draft boundaries for New South Wales’ federal redistribution, I thought I would summarise the consequences of the election.

It appears that this result has clearly benefited the ALP in its attempts to increase the size of the majority, although, as Antony Green points, the uniform swings needed for the ALP to lose its majority or for the Coalition to gain a majority remains steady.

Assuming no significant changes in the final reports in New South Wales and Queensland, Labor will have gained five seats without increasing its vote: Swan in WA, Dickson and Herbert in Queensland and Macarthur and Gilmore in New South Wales. They also have notionally gained Greenway, but since Labor seat Reid was abolished, and Greenway was radically redrawn, I’m going to count Greenway as simply balancing out the loss of Reid. This gives Labor 88 notional seats. Counting the loss of Lyne to an independent, the Coalition’s seats fall from 65 to 59.

There are a lot more ultra-marginals on the new boundaries. At the last election, Labor held Robertson by 0.1% and the Liberals held Macarthur by 0.7%. On the new boundaries, Labor holds four seats on margins of 0.2% or less (Robertson, Macarthur, Gilmore and Macquarie, which was previously a relatively safe Labor seat, but lost all of it’s Central West NSW territory to be replaced by Hawkesbury territory). Paterson is now held by the Liberals by 0.4%.

Indeed, Labor would gain four more Coalition seats (for a total gain of 6) with a 1.3%. Ominously for the Nationals, those four seats include Cowper and Calare, half of the Nationals’ dwindling NSW delegation.