Where do the Greens go in the ACT?


With the final count resulting in the fourth Green, Caroline le Couteur, elected to the final seat in the ACT Legislative Assembly, the ACT’s local parliament now includes 7 Labor MLAs, 6 Liberal MLAs and 4 Greens MLAs. On top of that, the ACT Greens today announced that new Ginninderra MLA Meredith Hunter will take on the role of “Parliamentary Convenor” of the ACT Greens, which most media has taken as making her the de facto leader of the ACT Greens. The determination to not name Hunter as the party’s “leader” suggests a reluctance to embrace the concept, the party being dragged kicking and screaming into electing a leader. It also suggests that the party will embrace a minimalist model which does not give much power over the party outside Parliament and the other Greens MLAs, which isn’t surprising considering the Greens’ political history.

So where do the Greens go from here in determining the make-up of the next ACT Government? What options are on the table?

The biggest choice the Greens need to make are whether they will support a Labor government led by Jon Stanhope or a Liberal government led by Zed Seselja. The ALP has a larger presence in the Assembly, although both parties have sufficient MLAs to form a government with Greens support. Another factor supporting a decision to favour Labor is the position of most Greens voters. The pre-election Patterson poll indicated substantially higher levels of Greens voters preferring Mr Stanhope as Chief Minister. On the other hand, the Liberals have appeared to be an easier party to conduct negotiations with, with Labor beginning the negotiations by suggesting they would not move easily to work with the Liberals. The ALP’s history of minority government suggests a difficulty in cooperating with crossbenchers. Indeed, the Liberals have offered at least one ministry in a Liberal/Green government to the Greens, while Stanhope has suggested that he does not favour a model with both Labor and Greens ministers in a coalition government. On the other hand, the Liberal party room includes a number of very conservative MLAs, despite the Cabverra Liberals being considered one of the most progressive Liberal Parties in the country.

So what model could the Greens use as part of an alliance with Labor or Liberal? On all four previous occasions when the Greens have supported a government in Australia (twice in Tasmania and twice in the ACT, supporting Liberal and Labor equally), they have adopted the Confidence and Supply model. This involves the two parties negotiating an agreement that commits the crossbench party, in exchange for some policy commitments, to supporting the government’s budget and to vote with the government (or in some cases, abstain) in the case of any confidence motions which would bring down the government. The Greens would retain freedom to vote with or against the government on all other issues and would not take on any ministries. This model would give the Greens the freedom to oppose the government on an issue-by-issue basis, avoid needing to join a day-to-day governing partnership with a party with whom they have a poor relationship. It also allows the Greens to retain a separate identity and still campaign against the government at the next election. On the downside, it dramatically restricts the ability of the Greens to influence the policy direction of the ACT. While they would achieve some policy concessions and would have the balance of power in regards to legislation, they would not be able to demonstrate their ability to govern by holding a ministry.

On the other hand, the Greens could move towards a full coalition with Labor or the Liberals. This would involve the Greens taking on one or more ministries within a coalition cabinet consisting of ministers from two different parties. The two parties would agree to a common policy platform, made up of an amalgam of the two parties’ election platforms. It could involve the Greens taking on the Deputy Chief Minister position. On the plus side, Greens Ministers holding portfolios such as Transport or Education could have dramatically greater impacts on the ACT’s policy agenda than minor policy concessions given by a government in exchange for arms-length support. It would also give the Greens the first opportunity to demonstrate an ability to govern competently and move away from a constant crossbench/oppositional role.

On the downside, a full coalition would tie the Greens to every bad and/or unpopular decision made by the Labor or Liberal government. The Greens would also be permanently outvoted in cabinet and in any joint party room. History in New Zealand suggests that minor parties working in coalition with a major party suffer at the following election, while the major party partner tends to benefit from incumbency much more clearly.

There is a third alternative, namely that the Greens would take ministries outside of cabinet. This arrangement was used in the second Carnell government, for independent Health Minister Mike Moore, as well as in the last Labour government in New Zealand, which appointed New Zealand First leader Winston Peters as Foreign Minister and United Future leader Peter Dunne as Revenue Minister. In all these cases, these ministers were only bound to cabinet solidarity in their portfolios. This resulted in the spectacle of the NZ Foreign Minister criticising the New Zealand government’s decision to sign a free trade agreement with China. This would likely be much better for the Greens than a full coalition, although Labor would tend to see it as the worst of both worlds. It would give up ministries without gaining control over the Greens’ political agenda.

The final consideration is how many ministries the Greens would take if they were to take on ministerial portfolios. The current Labor government included 9 MLAs, 5 of whom were ministers. These proportions were reflected in the numbers of MLAs and Cabinet ministers in each of Labor’s factions. If this was reflected in any deal, a Labor-Green ministry would include 4 Labor ministers to represent the 7 Labor MLAs, and 2 Greens ministers to repreent the four Greens MLAs. A similar proportion would see the Greens have two ministries out of five in a Liberal-Green ministerial arrangement. Although I’m sure both Labor and Liberal would prefer a smaller Greens presence.

This week in satire – October 27


Note: I’m going to be away from the internet for much of this week, so expect less regular posts. But I’ll be back on Saturday to get ready for Tuesday’s US election.

Jon Stewart examines the various “anti-American” accusations made by conservative politicians in the last week. Be sure to also watch the follow up quiz: are you a real American, or a fake American?

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The Daily Show’s take on Barack Obama’s introductory video at the Democratic National Convention:

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And finally, I’ve also included a Saturday Night Live clip: what if Al Gore had won the 2000 election? Since it opens automatically, I’ve placed it below the fold.

Swing state stories: Virginia


Since Eisenhower’s first election in 1952, Virginia has been a solidly Republican state, only going to the Democrats in the landslide election of 1964. As a former Confederate state, the state was solidly Democratic until the 1950s and 1960s, which saw a switch to the Republicans.

In local politics, Virginia was dominated by Republicans in the 1990s, with Republican governors George Allen and Jim Gilmore winning election in 1993 and 1997 respectively. Virginia has the stricted term limits law in the country, with governors limited to one four-year term in office. During the 1990s the Senate contingent was split between Democrat Chuck Robb and Republican John Warner.

Virginia gained an extra seat in the US House of Representatives in 1993, going from 10 to 11 seats. After Democrats lost one seat at the 1994 Republican landslide, but held six of eleven seats from 1994 to 2000. The 2000 election saw Virgil Goode change from Democrat to Independent, resulting in a 5-5-1 split, while the Republicans won control of the Virginian House of Delegates and former governor George Allen won the Senate seat for the Republicans. The following redistricting in 2001 strongly favoured the Republicans. They gained a seat at a 2001 special election in the 4th district. The 2002 election saw one more Republican defeat a Democrat, while Independent Virgil Goode was re-elected as a Republican. The Republicans have maintained this 8-3 lead in Virginia House of Representatives seats at the 2004 and 2006 elections.

The Democrats won back control of the governorship in 2001, when liberal businessman Mark Warner was elected to office. The 2005 election saw his lieutenant governor, Tim Kaine, elected as his successor.

The 2006 race for the Senate saw former Reagan Secretary of the Navy and Vietnam veteran Jim Webb challenge sitting Senator George Allen. Webb remained behind for most of the campaign, until the turning point of the Macaca scandal in August, when Allen was videoed using a racial epithet against a Webb supporter of Indian heritage who appeared at an Allen event. After Webb began climbing in the polls, he took the lead in late October and ended up defeating Alllen by a slim 9329 votes, a margin of 0.4%. The race was the closest in the country and decided which party would hold a majority in the Senate.

Geographically, Virginia is a divided state. A quarter of Virginia’s population lives in Northern Virginia, which is made up essentially of the southern suburbs of Washington DC, leaning heavily to the Democrats. In contrast, the southern, more rural districts, are heavily dominated by the Republicans.

The races in 2008

In late August 2007, long-serving Republican Senator John Warner announced that he would retire at the 2008 election. Two weeks later, former governor Mark Warner (no relation) announced he would run as a Democratic candidate for Senate. Facing no Democratic primary opposition, Warner took an early lead over his potential Republican opponents. The Republicans chose another former governor, Jim Gilmore, following Gilmore’s withdrawal from the Republican presidential primary. Yet Warner has dominated the race for the entire campaign. The Pollster.com average has strongly favoured Warner for the entire campaign, Warner currently leads by 59.4% to 32%. Out of all the Democrats’ potential Senate gains in 2008, Warner is the most likely. It seems impossible that the Democrats won’t pick up this seat.

In addition to the three seats won in the past three elections, the Democrats appear on track to win back the Northern Virginia 11th District, after losing it at the 1994 election. In addition, the Democrats have outside shots of winning the 2nd and 5th Districts. In particular, the 2nd District has seen a rapid rise in the Democrat vote in the last few months.

The presidential race in Virginia has also shifted strongly to the Democrats. John McCain held a lead from February until June, when his gradually declining lead was eliminated. McCain and Obama remained neck-and-neck for three months, before McCain’s vote collapsed in mid-September, with Obama taking a dominant lead in the state, with Obama now leading by an average of 8.1%. Virginia’s status as a solid Obama gain is making it extremely difficult for McCain to find the 270 electoral votes needed to win. If Obama carries through on his current lead and wins, Virginia will likely be an essential component of that victory.

Pollster.com rolling average of the Virginia presidential race

Meanwhile, in Scotland…


Gordon Brown has had a bad year with by-elections in the UK. Four by-elections were held in two months in the summer of 2008. Labour lost the seat of Crewe and Nantwich to the Conservatives in May. Following the election of Conservative Boris Johnson as Mayor of London, his seat of Henley went to a by-election in June. Labour suffered an embarrassing result, coming fifth, behind the Greens and British National Party, polling 3.1%. Labour did not contest the Haltemprice and Howden by-election, triggered by the resignation of Conservative Shadow Home Secretary David Davis in protest over the Brown government’s counter-terrorism laws. Two weeks later, in late July, Labour suffered its worst blow, when Glasgow East, Labour’s third safest seat in Scotland, was lost to the Scottish National Party with a 26% swing. After four months relief, the voters of Glenrothes in Scotland go to the polls on Tuesday, November 6, following the death of Labour MP John McDougall from mesothelioma.

Brown was riding high in the polls straight after he succeeded Tony Blair in mid-2007 following the defeat of Labour in the Scottish parliamentary election. In October speculation grew that Brown would call a snap election, but following a negative poll Brown backed down. The last year has seen Brown miles behind David Cameron’s Conservative Party, while Labour has fallen further behind the Scottish National Party in Scottish polls for both Scottish and Westminster elections. May-July 2008 saw Labour lose two seats in Westminster as well as suffering many losses in council elections across England and Wales and the defeat of Labour in the London Mayoral election.

While it appeared that the SNP would be a favourite to win Glenrothes. It is much more marginal than Glasgow East, and lies close to the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election, won by the Liberal Democrats off Labour in 2006. The local council is also run by a coalition of the SNP and Liberal Democrats, which has been rocked by statements made by council leader and SNP candidate Peter Grant regarding council policy. Gordon Brown’s performance in the polls has improved since the beginning of the financial crisis, with Brown’s internal critics in the party shelving plans to depose him as Prime Minister.

This will be the most significant by-election of Gordon Brown’s campaign so far. After a poor year, Brown has demonstrated that his economic abilities are still useful. Yet polls are yet to show Brown blunting Cameron’s advance. Alex Salmond is likewise dominant in Scottish politics. This is Brown’s best chance to strengthen his position, if he can manage to withhold the SNP tide. We’ll see what happens on November 6.

New Zealand update


New Zealand goes to the polls on November 8 to elect its national Parliament. New Zealand uses the Mixed Member Proportional system (which is best explained by Deborah at Larvatus Prodeo) which means that, in addition to 63 general electorates, and 7 Maori electorates, 50 list MPs are elected to “top up” parties who win less electorates than their share of the vote warrants. Parties must poll over 5% or win one electorate seat to be allocated list seats, and if a party wins more electorates than their share of the vote warrants, an “overhang” is created.

The 2005 election saw the opposition National Party recover from its 2002 collapse, winning 48 seats to the Labour Party’s 50. The Greens lost three seats, falling to 6, while New Zealand First lost 6 seats, falling to 7. NZF leader Winston Peters lost his electorate seat of Tauranga, but NZF managed to stay above the 5% threshold. The libertarian ACT Party (founded by former Labour Finance Minister Roger Douglas) plummeted in the polls, and looked like losing all nine of its seats without an electorate seat, but a focused campaign by ACT leader Rodney Hide in the Auckland seat of Epsom saw him win the seat and bring one fellow list MP into Parliament with him. The Maori Party, founded with the resignation of Labour minister Tariana Turia, won four of the seven Maori seats of the Labour Party. United Future New Zealand fell from 8 seats to 5, while one of the two remaining Progressive MPs was defeated.

Labour formed a government with Progressive MP Jim Anderton, New Zealand First and United Future, with Winston Peters becoming Foreign Minister and UF leader Peter Dunne also taking a ministry. They also gained agreement from the Greens to abstain on matters of confidence and supply, guaranteeing the government a majority.

This campaign has seen an interesting development in New Zealand’s party system. Out of the six minor parties, four of them are committed to supporting one particular major party following the election. Jim Anderton, as the sole Progressive MP, has effectively become a bonus Labour MP, with his party having little chance of winning a second seat in the list seats. Indeed, Progressive’s party vote has collapsed so far that they may qualify for zero seats, meaning that Jim Anderton himself would fill an overhang. New Zealand First has been buffetted by crises and scandals, and National leader John Key has ruled out cooperating with the party. The Greens have announced that they will work with Labour after the election, after producing a policy checklist and then evaluating Labour and National against the criteria. On the other hand, ACT clearly are seen to favour National.

National has dominated polling for most of the year, regularly breaking 50%, raising the spectre of a National majority government. Yet Labour’s advantage lies with its better relationship with minor parties. Out of the six minor parties in Parliament, only ACT and the Maori Party have not played a part in supporting the Labour government in the last three years. Polls suggest that the Maori Party is on track to win 6 or even 7 of the Maori seats, even though their party vote will only warrant electing 3 or 4 Maori Party MPs, meaning that an overhang will be created, increasing the number of seats needed for a majority. The Green Party has also been polling strongly, suggesting an increase in Green MPs after the election. ACT have hovered around their 2005 levels, although they hold out high hopes of winning a third seat for the returning Roger Douglas. United Future appears to be on track to only win one seat. New Zealand First appears on track for defeat, with the party struggling to poll above 3%. Without the seat of Tauranga, which appears on track to stay with the Nationals, the party will lose all of its 7 seats.

So what are the implications for post-election talks? The polling average website Curiablog currently predicts National winning 60 seats to Labour’s 45, with Greens winning 9, Maori Party 6, ACT 2, Progressive and United Future 1 each and NZF being eliminated. In this situation, National could form a government with the support of ACT and United Future. But if National’s vote falls any further, they will have to rely on the Maori Party in the balance of power. The Maori Party represents a strongly left-wing constituency, which has previously tended towards Labour. Polls suggest their supporters want the Maori Party to go with the Labour Party. The Maori Party also has a strong relationship with the Greens, who have committed to support Labour. Yet despite the indications that the Maori Party would be a natural fit with Labour, the party appears to be straining to find an excuse to work with National, with co-leader Tariana Turia appearing to favour a National government while her fellow co-leader Pita Sharples favours Labour. Yet it hasn’t been easy. National remains committed to the abolition of the Maori seats in 2013, while the Maori Party wants the seats entrenched, which would require a referendum of Maori voters to abolish them. Racial gaffes by National politicians such as Shadow Immigration Minister Lockwood Smith have also harmed the chances of National forming a government with Labour the Maori Party.

The trends lean towards the Maori Party holding the balance of power. While they may wish to support a stronger National/ACT government, they may well be forced to choose a Labour/Green government instead.

ACT results update


It seems that the ACT Electoral Commission is updating results every evening around this time (although I’m running on Wednesday night’s results. Each day they enter a certain number of booths worth of ballots into the computer, then they distribute the preferences for those booths, as well as all electronic votes (the vast majority of pre-polls, plus some election-day votes cast in the town centres of Gungahlin, Belconnen, Civic, Woden and Tuggeranong).

As of Monday night Caroline le Couteur was leading by 49 votes over her fellow Green Elena Kirschbaum at the key point in the count, when Elena was eliminated. Caroline then was 49 votes behind Liberal Jeremy Hanson for the last position.

As of Wednesday night, Elena is now 11 votes ahead of Caroline, and 101 votes behind Jeremy Hanson. Jeremy is also only 57 votes behind Liberal Giulia Jones, suggesting that she could be at just as much risk as Hanson.

So what does it tell us? First of all, it’s incredibly close either way. It appears that the split between Elena and Caroline could make the difference. It’s possible that Caroline performs better against Jeremy Hanson than Elena, meaning that if Elena leads over her the Greens chances could be slightly less.

Apart from electronic votes, all of which have been counted, votes have been counted in booths whose names begin in “A”, “B” or “C”, so obviously a lot is yet to be counted. But I’d point out that Campbell, where I scrutineered, was a very strong booth for Jeremy Hanson personally and a weak booth for the Greens generally. So it is better for the Greens if they are losing by 101 votes at this point.

Update: Antony Green in comments at Poll Bludger seems to have tonight’s result. Elena Kirschbaum has won the last spot on the latest count off Giulia Jones by 58 votes. This is gonna take forever.

US08: It ain’t over ’til it’s over, but…


As an extra item for people to consider, Charlie Cook lays out how the metrics of the race show that Obama’s position is much stronger than what the polls say. The simple facts he lay out demonstrate Obama’s dominance and how John McCain will struggle to come close:

The metrics of this election argue strongly that this campaign is over, it’s only the memory of many an election that seemed over but wasn’t that is keeping us from closing the book mentally on this one. First, no candidate behind this far in the national polls, this late in the campaign has come back to win. Sure, we have seen come-from-behind victories, but they didn’t come back this far this late.

Well worth reading in full.

US08: Two weeks out


The United States will elect its 44th President in less than two weeks time, on Tuesday, November 4. You would have to say that Barack Obama is in a dominant position as we move into the final stretch. According to Pollster.com, Barack Obama holds 286 electoral votes, John McCain holds 157 and 95 EVs are considered toss-ups, although most “toss-up” states lean slightly towards Obama.

Senator Obama has been the clear frontrunner ever since he took the lead in the Democratic primary. Since the 2006 midterm elections delivered a victory to the Democrats, polls have leaned towards the Democrats for most of the campaign. Senator McCain briefly took the lead in the aftermath of the Republican National Convention, as Governor Sarah Palin dominated the media. Poor performances from Governor Palin, combined with the financial crisis, saw Obama open a gaping lead in the national polls and in the key states. This has begun to narrow in the last few days, although Obama remains well in front.

In particular, the electoral geography strongly favours Barack Obama. John Kerry and Al Gore each came only one state short of winning government, meaning that Barack Obama, assuming he can hold onto all the Kerry states, only needs to win one medium-sized Bush state to win the election. According to Pollster, every single seat won by John Kerry is in the Obama camp, as well as New Mexico, Colorado, and Virginia. In addition, every single toss-up state voted for Bush in 2004. This means that the battle is being fought almost exclusively on John McCain’s territory, meaning he needs to win practically every swing state in order to come out on top.

Funding makes it even harder for McCain to compete. Barack Obama has demonstrated a phenomenal ability to raise money, including from gaining huge numbers of smaller donations, as opposed to larger donations from richer donors. In the month of September, Obama raised a mind-boggling $150 million. Over 3.1 million Americans have now donated to the Obama campaign, and the average donation still sits under $100 per donor. In contrast, the McCain campaign has accepted public funding, which will dramatically limit its spending power from August to November.

The last few days have seen a narrative emerging of conservatives turning on John McCain, some endorsing Barack Obama while many have criticised the McCain campaign’s strategy in the last few weeks. Many have expressed disappointment with the performance of Sarah Palin and how the decision to appoint her to the ticket reflect’s on John McCain’s ability to serve as President. This peaked with the endorsement of Barack Obama by former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

With two weeks to go, Barack Obama looks in a very strong position, and very likely to win. While nothing can be ruled out, it will be extremely difficult for John McCain to overcome Obama’s massive advantage. The longest and most expensive election campaign in US history looks likely to end with a historical result, with Obama likely to win.

The Green tide?


Support for the Greens has increased markedly since the beginning of 2008. Newspoll has shown an increase in the party vote over the 10% barrier for the first time, recently reaching 13%. State Newspolls have the party polling over 10% in all mainland states, with the Tasmanian Greens over 20%. Recent elections in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and the ACT have all seen marked increases in votes for the Greens, and the Greens came close to winning the federal by-election in Mayo.

At this time last year, nineteen Greens sat in Parliaments across Australia. This has now risen to 25, with the election of two extra MLCs in Western Australia, two extra MLAs in the ACT and one extra Senator, and the defection of Queensland Labor MP Ronan Lee. This is well in excess of the numbers elected by the Democrats or the Democratic Labor Party. This compares to 8 MPs belonging to conservative minor parties such as the DLP, CDP, Shooters’ Party and Family First.

Following the Greens winning three seats and the balance of power at last Saturday’s ACT election, Poll Bludger and Larvatus Prodeo have begun debates about the future of the Greens. The question stands: are the Greens on a path to become Australia’s third force in the long-term, or is the high vote simply an expression of a protest vote against the major parties?

The biggest change to take place before the swing to the Greens went into overdrive in January 2008 was the election of the Rudd government in November 2007. The Greens have suffered from progressive voters who sympathise with Greens policies voting Labor in order to defeat Liberal governments. Most voters do not fully understand the preference system, and this misunderstanding is encouraged by ALP politicians who tell voters that a vote for anyone other than the ALP risks a Liberal government. Labor governments tend to be markedly more conservative than Labor oppositions. This may also contribute to the Greens’ overall stronger performance in state elections, where they have been opposed to Labor governments.

So what sets apart the Greens from other minor parties in recent history, such as the Democrats and One Nation? The main difference lies in the development of the Greens. While the Democrats and One Nation rose to their peaks quickly (although the Democrats stayed at their relative peak for a long time), the Greens have slowly risen, gaining small swings at each election and gradually electing more members of Parliament. This has been accompanied by a reliance on a large grassroots membership, as well as much stronger presences on local councils and in state and territory parliaments. In contrast, the Democrats always had a relatively small membership base, with the party centralised on the Senate party room, with little in the way of local and state branch structures.

The Greens do not rely much on the Senate party room or its Senators. With over 10,000 members, an extensive network of local groups, local councillors and MPs in every parliament except the Northern Territory, the party is much less reliant on the performance of its federal representatives.

In particular, the New South Wales party relies much more strongly on the perfomance of its local councillors (now increased to 75 seats across the state) than on Greens Senators. The next generation of potential Greens MPs in NSW is largely composed of sitting or former councillors. This is particularly true of the seats of Balmain and Marrickville, where the Greens have tended to stand local councillors in an attempt to win the seats. The Greens also are growing on councils in Victoria and Tasmania. Two of Victoria’s three Greens MLCs are former councillors, with Greg Barber previously serving as Mayor of Yarra. With Victoria’s local councils slowly shifting towards a more favourable electoral system, the Greens should pick up more council seats in the November 28 election. In addition to giving Greens an opportunity to train up future MPs, councils give the Greens an opportunity to demonstrate competence in governing and to debunk

The Greens have also taken time to carve out a niche on the political spectrum to the left of the ALP, unlike the Democrats who struggled to attract progressive voters while maintaining a position at the centre of the spectrum and work constructively with all governments of whatever ideology.

While the Greens vote has increased, and current polls would give the Greens a strong chance of electing extra Senators in 2010, the Greens are looking towards winning lower house single-member electorates as the opportunity to cement their position as a third force. The Greens have had a number of close calls, polling strongly in the state seats of Marrickville (NSW), Balmain (NSW), Melbourne (Vic) and Fremantle (WA), with a number of other state seats also registering strong results for the Greens. The Greens came second in the federal seat of Melbourne in 2007 for the first time in a federal general election, although it is likely that a breakthrough will take place first in state politics. You would have to think that the Greens stand a very good chance of winning Balmain and/or Marrickville at the 2011 NSW election, and may finally get over the line in Melbourne in the 2010 Victorian election. If the Greens manage to win those seats they will have truly surpassed the performance of Australia’s historical minor parties.

So is the increase in the vote for the Greens a blip, or a long-term trend? It is true that the Greens have benefited from the poor performance of the major parties, but the major parties have been equally damaged by the rise of a credible party for people to cast a protest vote, even if the Greens are not yet seen as a credible alternative for government. There is no sign that those voters will turn back any time soon. Protest votes seem to be cast not so much against individual policy items or figures in the major parties but a culture of top-down control, arrogance and thuggery, something which is not likely to change anytime soon. Furthermore, once someone casts a vote for the Greens once, there is much less of a burden for them to vote for the Greens a second time.

The Greens’ performance in positions of balance of power, despite a media narrative which ignores history, has been relatively strong. While the Greens failed to hold onto long-term coalitions when they held the balance of power in Tasmania, the party managed to achieve parts of its agenda, and has survived the short-term decline that all minor parties suffer following a period supporting a government. Likewise, the Greens have generally acted responsibly in their time in the upper house balance of power in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia. Sure, they don’t just do what the major parties want, but that is exactly why their voters elected them. The first experience of Greens in the Senate balance of power suggests that the Australian Greens are performing well in their role of handling the power responsibly while mapping out their own policy agenda.

While there is no long-term future guaranteed for any minor party in Australia, the Greens appear to be on track for further gains and a significant role in Australian politics for many years to come. The Greens are no flash-in-the-pan.

US08: Wingnut Congresswoman sticks both feet in her mouth


I haven’t written a full analysis post on any of the US House races yet, but just wanted to share this: arch-conservative Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann from Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District calling Barack Obama “Anti-American” and getting torn to shreds by Chris Matthews for the trouble.

In the following 24 hours, her Democratic challenger Elwyn Tinklenberg (yes, that is a real name) raised a mind-boggling $450,000 in donations in response.