“What Role Do Minor Parties Perform in the Australian Political System?”

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The role of the minor parties within the Australian political system can be as their title suggests, quite minor. On the other hand, a minor party can influence the political proceedings of this country in more ways than one. Minor parties can highlight socio-economic problems that quite often fly under the radar of the larger political parties, or simply can broaden electoral debate. Often spawning from a social, or in the case of the Greens, an environmental movement, minor parties tend to only last through one election, due to a lack of support and relevance in the mainstream social fabric. The minor parties can become crucial players come election time, due to Australia’s law of Compulsory preferential voting. Jaensch (1983, p.21)…show more content…
For example, if the Federal Liberal party needed preferences in marginal seats in Tasmania, a deal could be negotiated with the Greens, which could see protection of the old growth forest areas of the state. In reality this can backfire, as it did for the Labor party during the 2004 Federal election. Latham and the Labor party stated they would protect the Old grow forest areas from logging practices, in an attempt to win votes. This lead to a revolt by the unions, and those involved in the logging industry, claiming that Labor had abandoned them. The second rule that Sartori created was, “A party qualifies for relevance whenever its existence, or appearance, affects the tactics of party competition and particularly when it alters the direction of the competition- by determining a switch from centripetal to centrifugal competition either leftward, rightward, or in both directions- of the governing-oriented parties” (1983, p.19). This rule further highlights the importance of minor party preferences, and the role they have in the Australian system. As an extension of Sartori’s two criteria for minor party relevance, a third rule is often highlighted due to Australia’s application of preferential voting on the electoral system. This third rule as quoted by Jaensch (1983, p.21) states that “A minor party can be discounted as irrelevant whenever its preferences
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