The election of Cathy McGowan in Indi has energised some minor and micro party supporters to become more professional. Whether they can have the same success remains to be seen, but they’re getting together to discuss how to use existing organisations and new technology to take on the major party duopoly.
Calling themselves the Heart and Soul of Australia they’re holding a summit this Monday.
As Joanne Stuart from Centre for Civil Society says:
The electoral dynamics in ‘safe seats’ are often misunderstood. If an incumbent politician can be reduced to less than 50% of the vote, a community-based third candidate can win if they poll in the 20s, ahead of other groups, and receive their preferences. In Indi, the Liberal won 45%, and the traditional opponent (the ALP) just 12%. Cathy McGowan polled 30%, but because she received preferences from the Greens (8%), other minor parties, and the ALP, she won the seat.
In safe Labor seats, a reverse scenario applies. If the ALP vote can be reduced to less than 50%, and a community-based third candidate polls more than the Liberals, then preferences can enable a community win. Independent Andrew Wilkie won the previously ‘safe’ Labor seat of Denison in Hobart this way in 2010 with less than 20% of the primary vote, but received preferences from all other non-Labor parties. He was re-elected on 7 September with a swing of 18%.
Traditionally ‘safe seats’ are much easier for community third candidate to win than traditionally ‘marginal’ electorates. In a marginal where Labor and Liberal each get 40%, it is hard for a community challenger to finish second – because both of the majors think they can win and therefore campaign hard. In a ‘safe seat’, they don’t bother campaigning seriously, and it is realistic for a challenger to aim to finish second.
So watch out if you’re in a safe seat.
They are particularly targeting state elections, with planning starting at the summit.
New technologies appear to be a key to what is planned.
Craig Lambie will lead this Summit. Craig is an IT whizz and campaigner, who previously developed The Greens’ technology platform for their campaigns. Craig has begun planning a strategy and campaign platform that will enable us to develop a large-membership organization in preparation for next year’s state election campaigns, with a particular focus on the Victorian election in November.