Greens vote in the Victorian Election

On the count so far the results are a rather disappointing, overall the vote hasn’t changed much since the last state election, but after getting great results in Victoria in the recent federal election this could be seen even as a bit of a step backwards. Being in South Australia I’m not going to pretend that I’m any sort of expert on Victorian politics, so what follows is mostly speculation from an interested outsider.

Where the Greens are concerned there has been a lot of focus in the coverage on the failure to pickup any of the four inner city seats that were rated as a chance. I think it is a bit weird that the major narrative about the Greens in the press is that they failed to pick up these seats, when a couple of weeks ago the big news in the press was that the Greens couldn’t win them because they were being preferenced last by the Liberals. So if the story then was that these seats were no longer winnable, why is the story now that it is a big shock that the they weren’t won? With Liberal prefences the Greens would have won some of these seats, as expected, so I don’t think the failure to win these is a sign of a Greens failure. As an aside, another issue brought up here is that the Greens failed in preference negotiations, but as mentioned in an earlier post I don’t really buy that. It’s worth remembering that the Liberals preferences didn’t end up with the Greens in the past because of a deal, it was because they chose to preference Labor last. I don’t see much the Greens could have realistically offered the Liberals to get these preferences since I can’t see the Greens giving the Liberals preferences in return. It was never really a matter of who the Liberals liked better, it was them having to decide who they disliked the most.

So even though I don’t view the failure to win those inner city seats as a much of an overall measure of failure in the light of the preference issue, the election still was not great for the Greens. On the radio I heard the question a couple of times “has the Greens bubble burst?” to which the obvious answer is no. Their vote didn’t collapse by any means, it just failed to increase further. As a result it looks like the situation in the upper house may be unchanged, so the three incumbents stay but there are no new Greens MPs. Of course it’s early days for the upper house and this is not finalised (either way).

So what happened? I think the biggest factor is that there is a big swing on for a change of government. When people want to change Government they vote for the major parties. There are lots of big swings to the coalition, and the Greens vote is steady or only slightly up or down in many seats with these big swings. This situation also means that Labor voters tempted to vote Green may stick with Labor to try to keep them in Government (which, if you assume that Greens with balance of power would form Government with Labor, isn’t at all necessary).

There were a couple of other factors that come to mind

  • The big stories about the Liberal prefences destroying the Greens’ chances might have left people thinking that they were no longer worth voting for.
  • The disendorsement of a candidate in the last week didn’t help the Greens image. Not that I’m saying it was necessarily a mistake, I don’t know enough to give an opinion either way.
  • In some electorates the Greens lost out quite a bit to independents, so in these cases it appears to be about local issues.

There is some good news for the Greens, there are a number of booths around the place where the Greens got considerable swings to them. I don’t know enough about them to speculate why this is, but I will note that mostly they are around the same area (Western Suburbs) so it looks to be a general trend in this area rather than something specific to the particular seats or candidates. I’m not sure how much this is translating to the Western Metro upperhouse seat, the ABC still have it as a very close call as to whether the Greens will retain it, but once again it’s early to call those.

One other big unknown at this point (which has been raised by The Greens’ Greg Barber) is that there is a huge number of prepoll, absentee & postal votes. Of course these don’t necessarily favour the Greens, but it does mean there are lots more votes to be counted and the situation may change somewhat (not that I see these turning around any of the inner city seats, but it might affect the upper house results, and the overall figures of swings).

At a personal level, it’s disappointing that the Greens aren’t looking like winning a spot in Western Victoria, last time Marcus Ward would have been elected if the ALP had preferenced him above the DLP. This time they did, but it doesn’t look like he’ll get in. The personal aspect is that I spent the day handing out how-to-votes in that electorate. I should throw in a thanks to my fellow SA Greens who also put in an effort to help our Victorian friends (especially those who helped get things organised and got us there & back), also thanks to the fantastic Greens supporters in Natimuk (what a great place! In an electorate with about 5% vote for the Greens, this is a town with about 15% voting Green) who generously provided accommodation for us (it’s a shame some of us couldn’t stay longer), and also thanks to the volunteers for all the other parties for their pleasant company & friendly conversations throughout the rainy day at Horsham North .