Skip to comments.LIVE THREAD: Australian Federal Election Count as it happens
Posted on 08/21/2010 12:49:31 AM PDT by naturalman1975
This is a live thread to follow the count for the Australian Federal Election 2010. Polling stations in the eastern Australian states (which means the large bulk of Australia's population) close at 6pm Australian standard time - that is 1am in California, and 4pm in New York for American comparisons.
Australia currently has a Labor government elected in November 2007 under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who defeated the Liberal/National coalition government of Prime Minister John Howard which had governed Australia for approximately 11 years. Labor, in response to poor opinion poll results, recently replaced their leader, giving us our first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, while the Liberal party (senior party in the coalition) after trying a very moderate party member as Leader of the Opposition, chose conservative Tony Abott as its leader in December last year.
In simple terms, this is an election of socialist Labor versus the conservative Liberal/National coalition, and the end result will be either Julia Gillard continuing as Prime Minister, or being replaced by Tony Abott.
But it isn't quite that straightforward.
Australia's political system is largely based on that of the United Kingdom, with some element adopted from the system of the United States. We have a Parliament with two Houses - a House of Representatives and a Senate - that are roughly similar to the US Congress, with the House of Representatives consisting of Members elected to represent local constituencies roughly based on equal population, while the Senate has an equal number of Senators representing each state (two 'Territories' of Australia also have a smaller number of Senators). What matters today is the election of the House of Representatives - the Senate is important, but it doesn't determine who holds government and the complicated voting system used there means we won't know its make up for some time.
So let's look at the House of Representatives.
There are 150 seats in the House of Representatives. If a party (or coalition of parties) wins 76 seats, it wins government. If no party (or coalition) achieves that number we have a hung Parliament - which could happen, and if it does, both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott will need to see if they can make a deal to form government (Gillard, as the incumbent, is entitled to the first chance to do so).
There are four parties of relevance to the House (there are a lot more parties, but only four are statistically likely to win even a single seat in the House).
We have Labor - who currently hold 83 seats and the government. A socialist party with all that entails. I am afraid I think they are most likely to be narrowly returned - but I'm willing to be wrong. The bottom line is we don't want Labor winning 76 seats, and even if they win 71 or so, they have a reasonable chance of forming a minority government.
We have two conservative parties - the Liberal Party and the National Party. These two parties nearly always operate in coalition and differences between them are minor. The Liberals are the larger party in the coalition and tend to represent conservatives in cities and the suburbs. The Nationals tend to represent conservatives in rural areas. There is also the Liberal-National Party (or LNP) which reflects the fact that in the state of Queensland and the Northern Territory, the two parties have formally combined. For the purposes of tonight, these three parties can all be counted together - so if they can win, combined, a minimum of 76 seats, we win. We go into this election with 63 seats. With 72, we have a chance to form a minority government, assuming Labor hasn't managed 76 - how good a chance is very hard to say.
The other party of relevance is the Greens. The Greens have never won a seat in the House of Representatives, but have a reasonable chance of doing so today - one single seat which is currently held by Labor. The Greens have made it clear that in the event of a hung Parliament, they would give their support to Labor.
There are also four independents - they will, if reelected, or if any other independents are elected, have the balance of power in a hung parliament. All four of them are former members of the conservative parties (one Liberal and three Nationals) so if this happens, it may come down to whether their conservative tendencies are more or less important to them, than the reasons they left their parties.
So 76 seats is the magic number - it may help Americans to consider this as equivalent to Electoral College votes in your presidential elections (although they come in one at a time, not in blocks).
Now - Australia is a federation of six states (former British colonies) and two major territories (there are a number of minor territories, but they don't return Members of Parliament and are irrelevant here).
Polling indicates that in the current election, conservatives (the Liberals, Nationals, and Liberal Nationals) are most popular in Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia. Labor is most popular in Victoria and South Australia. In simple terms, to win, conservatives are hoping we can win enough seats in Queensland and New South Wales, and Labor is hoping they can win seats in Victoria and South Australia to hold us off. We're certainly interested in the other states and territories - we'll take a win anywhere we can get one, and a loss anywhere can hurt us - but most focus will be on these four states.
One final note - Australia has a preferential voting system - you have to rank candidates in the order you want them, not just vote for a single candidate. That means as results come in, the initial count (the 'primary vote') doesn't always matter much - unless a candidate does win 50% of it. What counts is how the votes go after the 'Distribution of Preferences', what is referred to as the 'Two Party Preferred' or '2PP' vote. Win 50%+1 of that, and you are in.
As happens in the US, media outlets use statistical analysis to try and call seats well before counting is complete. They are generally pretty good at it. We often start to get some calls within 30 minutes of polls closing.
OK... time to start the live thread.
Approximately 17 minutes until polls close on the east coast.
Watching lawnbowls... waiting for election coverage to start.
I did a postal vote a week ago. Being in Canberra my vote won't make much of a difference (for my American brethren Canberra is the national capital and like Washington DC, a lefty stronghold full of government drones).
Polls have closed in the east. Counting has begun.
I think the odds are in their favour. But at least we look like we have some chance.
when an exit poll is that close, it can easily switch, the margin of error is what?
Stephen Smith - Labor Minister says he doesn’t know who will win. At the last election he was confident at this stage.
+/- 2% typically.
Strange that the Liberal party would be conservative.
But that’s not surprising since the Green party is red.
When the Liberal Party was named, it meant something quite different.
I see that Labor is leading the exit poll 51-49. However, perhaps people are afraid to tell a stranger that they voted anti-communist.
51-49, evenly, we’d win. The margins in the seats don’t quite match the overall national average.
so with a +2-2 moe, it could easily be 49/51, the other way round. i’d love to see te smirk wiped off labours face.
Liberal at one time around the English speaking world meant a person or party that was in favor of freedom. Alas that meaning has been mostly lost.
Analysts pointing out that a year ago, people were predicting we’d lose 30 seats and be out for another decade. Even if we don’t win, we’re in a much better position than anybody would have believed possible last year.
ABC has cut to news broadcast as there are no numbers yet...