Archive for April, 2010

Seat profile #86: Werriwa

Werriwa is a safe Labor seat in southwestern Sydney. The seat has been held by a number of prominent Labor figures in the past, including Gough Whitlam, Mark Latham, and former federal Treasurer John Kerin. The seat has been held since 2005 by Chris Hayes, who has been pushed into neighbouring Fowler by a factional deal which has given the seat to Laurie Ferguson, the sitting member for Reid and Parliamentary Secretary. While there will be a local backlash against the parachuted candidate, the ALP will safely retain this seat with plenty of room to spare.

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Seat profile #85: Farrer

Farrer is a large seat covering parts of southwestern NSW. The seat covers parts of New South Wales along the Murray River from Albury to the South Australian border and up to the Queensland border. Major centres include Albury, Broken Hill and Deniliquin. The seat is held by Liberal MP Sussan Ley, who won the seat off the Nationals in 2001 following the retirement of former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer.

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Seat profile #84: Barker

Barker is a safe Liberal seat covering a large part of rural South Australia. Barker covers the southeastern corner of South Australia, stretching from Mount Gambier in the south up to the Barossa Valley and the Riverland, covering the upper parts of the Murray River within South Australia. The seat has been held by Liberal MP Patrick Secker since 1998.

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Seat profile #83: Riverina

Riverina is a Nationals seat in southwestern NSW, covering Wagga Wagga, Griffith and a number of other towns. It has been held by the Nationals for most of its history, but with the retirement of sitting MP Kay Hull in 2010, the Liberals plan to challenge the Nationals for the seat, as they did in the neighbouring seats of Hume and Farrer in 1998 and 2001. With the ALP having no chance of gaining the seat, the main contest will be between the Liberals and Nationals, and could hinge on the quality of candidates selected.

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Seat profile #82: Hunter

The seat of Hunter is a safe Labor electorate covering inland parts of the Hunter region. The seat covers parts of Maitland, Cessnock, Singleton, Muswellbrook and the Upper Hunter, with a majority of voters in the strongly pro-Labor area between Cessnock and Maitland. The seat is held by Joel Fitzgibbon, who was Minister for Defence in the Rudd government until his resignation in June 2009.

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Seat profile #81: Parkes

The seat of Parkes is one of the largest in Australia. The seat covers parts of Western NSW from Mudgee to Moree and Bourke. The seat is held by the Nationals’ Mark Coultan with a large margin. The seat was dramatically redrawn for the 2007 election to shift towards the north-west, while the recent redistribution largely reversed the changes while retaining the territory gained in 2007. The largest town in the seat is Dubbo, which makes up about one quarter of the population.

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UK 2010 – Election guide completed

I have now finished my guide to the UK general election, including guides to the election in all nine regions of England and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Click here to read it all.

UK 2010 – Lib Dems surge

The UK held its first ever general election debate between party leaders on Thursday evening, and instant reaction polls showed a clear majority agreeing that Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, came out as the winner. Voting intention polls since Friday have indicated that the Liberal Democrats have experienced a remarkable increase in support, effectively making the race a three-way tie.

Four polls have been released today, showing that the vote between CON/LAB/LD is as follows:

  • YouGov/Times: 33/30/29
  • ComRes/Independent: 31/27/29
  • ICM/Telegraph: 34/29/27
  • BPIX/Mail: 31/28/32

While the order varies in all three polls, it is clear that the Liberal Democrats have jumped into contention with the other major parties. Every poll for the week before Thursday’s debate saw the Lib Dems in the 18-23% range.

It is not yet clear what effect this poll surge will have come election day. Clegg was clearly the unknown figure in the debate, and his strong performance and outsider positioning has been largely responsible for the increase in the Lib Dem vote. The two other parties have largely ignored Clegg for most of the campaign, but that has already begun to change. Will the enthusiasm from a single debate performance fade, or can the Lib Dems maintain their support by positioning themselves as a force capable of winning the election?

The Lib Dem surge isn’t solely due to a strong performance on a debate. It is rather the harnessing of years of disillusionment with the political system that reached a crescendo with the 2009 expenses crisis. Both major parties are held in very low esteem and Clegg’s message of change would have appealed to a great number of them. The Lib Dems have consistently polled in the high teens or low 20s for most of the last decade, and that strong third party force was well-placed to take advantage of such a crisis. They have the strength to be credible without being too tainted by the scandals and disillusionment.

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UK 2010: Election guide updated

Profiles have now been posted for five of the nine regions of England. Profiles have been posted today for South West England, Eastern England and the East Midlands.

Map of Scotland completed

I have now finished my map of the 1997 Scottish boundaries, which means I have now posted a complete set of boundaries for all national and devolved elections since 1997. These boundaries were used for the 1997 and 2001 UK elections and the 1999, 2003 and 2007 Scottish Parliament elections. Posted below the fold are two screenshots from these maps. You can download the Westminster version or the Scottish Parliament version (which is a larger file due to the inclusion of Scottish parliamentary region boundaries).

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