Thursday, 20 March 2014

We still do not have

a result for the state election. The situation may become clearer at the end of the day when a good many more of the pre-poll and postal votes are counted.
Nevertheless it has been predicted that the major party which won the least votes is likely to form government. They did this last time and they have done it before. They have, so far, won about 36% of first preferences. The opposition has won about 44%. Votes for other candidates run to about 20%.
In two seats those candidates are "independents" who are likely to win their seats. Both candidates will get there by strong preferences from the opposition.
It would seem logical that these "independents" would support the opposition - after all, it is their voters which have helped them secure the seats. Not so. They are "meeting". They are "negotiating". They are putting in "wish lists" for their electorates. In other words they are both playing games and enjoying the power that they hold.
I suppose that is human nature. Perhaps I would do the same in their position - although I hope I would do the honourable thing and support the side that the majority of the electorate which had voted me in had indicated it wanted.
Apparently it is also human nature to want power. I am certain that, should the present government retain office (as it well might) then they will not lose any sleep over the fact that a majority of people did not give them their first preference and that, given a choice, they might not have given them their second or third preferences either.
There was one candidate in my electorate who managed to poll a mere 529 votes so far. Her party has polled just 4778 for the entire state so far. In the Legislative Council they have done only a little better with 6883 of the votes so far counted - and yes, there are more than a million eligible voters in this state.
I have a particular interest in that party. It is called D4D - short for Dignity for Disability. They actually have someone in the Legislative Council. Her arrival there was unexpected. She was the second candidate on the party list. The first candidate died unexpectedly just before election day. The media made an issue of it and the party got extra publicity. I suspect some people who might otherwise not have done put that party first, others put it second so that preferences flowed. Certainly the candidate managed to get in on less than 2% of the primary vote. It was a ridiculous result of course but she hasn't done a bad job - or rather, her advisers have done a good job and, although young, she has had the maturity and good sense to listen to them. It was not enough to make me vote for her party and I doubt that they will get a second candidate in this time. (She does not come up for re-election until next election and I doubt she will keep her position.)
Someone asked me yesterday whether we should not keep our present system simply because it can produce surprise results like that. My answer is no. It sounds inviting but it is not democratic. Preferential voting may be democratic - although there are mixed views on that - but the moment you say "You must make a second choice (or more) in order to make your first vote count" then it ceases to be democratic.
And, if you compel people to make a second and third choice, then those chosen to represent them need to be aware of the way the preferences have flowed and take it into account.
I don't think anything is going to change any time soon but, this time, the result is likely to be sufficiently different from the one the electorate intended that whoever forms government is going to have a hard time of it.

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