South Australia 2010 Archive

A tale of two systems

Last Saturday we saw state elections in Australia’s two smallest states. Both states have been governed by the Labor Party for a number of terms and saw a resurgent Liberal Party threaten the ALP’s hold on power. In both states, we saw a swing away from the ALP. That’s where the comparisons end, because South Australia’s election was conducted using a single-member preferential voting system, while Tasmania uses the single transferable vote proportional representation system (known locally as Hare-Clark).

Last weekend stands as a perfect comparison between the two broad options in western democracy about how we organise our elections: do you go for a system of single-member electorates, or do you aim for a system that closely reflects each party’s vote in the seats in the Parliament?

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South Australia and Tasmania election night liveblog

11:31pm – I’m signing off for the night. I’ll come back tomorrow to post wrap-ups of the results in South Australia and Tasmania tomorrow. You can read tonight’s commentary, as well as maps showing the result in South Australia, it’s available over the fold.

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Election day in South Australia and Tasmania

Voters go to the polls today in Australia’s two smallest states. In both states long-standing Labor governments are set to take a hit, although the situation is very different.

In South Australia, Mike Rann’s ALP is set to lose seats to Liberal leader Isobel Redmond. If Redmond can win power, she will become the first female Liberal premier in Australia, the first female Premier of South Australia and the first woman to win power from opposition in an Australian state. While Mike Rann’s majority is set to be slashed, the result will likely be either a slim Labor majority or a hung parliament, with Labor falling one seat short of a majority and relying on a crossbencher, such as ex-Labor independent Kris Hanna or Nationals MP (and Rann government minister) Karlene Maywald, to reach a majority. This would be a similar situation to the election results in 1989, 1997 and 2002. In the cases of 1989 and 1997, they saw the incumbent government retain power for one final term.

In Tasmania, the situation is very different. The Hare-Clark system, combined with the poor performance of the state Labor Party, have created a situation where no-one is predicting a majority for any party, and no-one even knows which party would have a better chance of doing so. We pretty know the result: Greens holding the balance of power in a hung parliament. What happens next is the interesting part. Even still, we don’t know what will happen in individual seats. The Liberals look set to gain second seats in Bass, Lyons and Franklin. In Braddon the Liberals and Greens are competing to take the third Labor seat. In Denison, all three parties are guaranteed only one seat, and will compete to win a second. The Greens are running a strong second candidate in Hobart Deputy Lord Mayor Helen Burnet. On the Labor side, polls have suggested Premier David Bartlett could even be in danger of losing his seat in Denison, where the ALP is running Scott Bacon, son of former Premier Jim Bacon, alongside Bartlett and two of his ministers.

While numbers vary, the Tasmanian polls are agreed on some key facts: the ALP has been hit hard, and the Greens are polling much higher than in the past. The ALP campaign was hurt hard this week when negative campaigning tactics backfired. The campaign, already gripped by panic, ran flyers and robocalls attacking the Greens policy on drug reform and on giving prisoners the right to vote, but the usually anti-Green media turned on the ALP over the tactics. While it is not yet clear who will win the key seats in Tasmania, the most interesting element of the process won’t begin until Sunday. The ALP and the Liberals have both insisted that they would not make a governing agreement with the Greens, and seem to be saying that they will let the party with the largest number of seats govern. This may be a short-term strategy to keep the Greens away from the levers of power, but sooner or later either the Greens need to reach some agreement with a major party to support its government, or the opposition major party will be forced to support the government to prevent the Greens bringing down the government. The process will be fascinating.

Consider this an open thread for election day. I will be liveblogging this evening as well as posting commentary on Twitter.

South Australia 2010: predictions

Following yesterday’s prediction of the results in Saturday’s Tasmanian election, I have now put together a prediction of the result in South Australia. I haven’t followed South Australia as closely as I have with Tasmania, so I have mostly made the changes based on the pendulum. The hardest choices were for the seats of Chaffey and Mitchell. I’ve predicted that Mitchell’s incumbency should allow him to overcome difficult circumstances. In contrast, I’m predicting that Nationals MP Karlene Maywald will be brought down by her connection to the Rann government in a conservative rural electorate. In addition, I have predicted that the ALP will lose Light, Mawson, Norwood, Newland and Morialta. I also have put Mount Gambier as a Liberal gain, due to the retirement of sitting independent MP Rory McEwen.

This would produce a result of 23 Labor, 21 Liberal and 3 independents. This would reflect the pattern of the 1989, 1997 and 2002 elections when no party managed a majority and independents supported the larger minority. On these numbers the ALP would probably scrape by, but would be vulnerable to by-elections or defections.

I have posted two maps showing how this changes the electoral map. The seven seat gains are coloured in light blue to distinguish them from the seats held by the Liberals already.

Greater Adelaide area.

South-eastern parts of South Australia. Chaffey and Mount Gambier can be seen on the eastern border of the state in light blue.

New pages on the blog

I have now posted a page on the blog profiling the upcoming South Australian election, which you can read here.

I have also now posted a tutorial explaining some of the ways you can use the Google Earth maps posted on this blog to make your own maps by overlaying maps and changing colours  and styles.

Have a read of those, and the flow of federal election seat profiles will resume shortly.

New South Australian electoral maps

With South Australia’s state election coming up on March 20, I have taken the opportunity to improve the electoral maps for South Australia posted on this blog. The maps for the 2006 election and for the upcoming 2010 election had already been posted, but were quite large files which took a while to download and were difficult to view on slower computers. I’ve now fixed these maps to be much smaller files and easier to use, without reducing the accuracy of the maps.

In addition I have also produced maps for the previous two redistributions. South Australia holds a redistribution after every election, so these maps cover elections from 1997 until the coming election.

You can download the maps at the following links:

Screenshot images from the new maps posted below the fold.

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