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Cheers - AE

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Liberal Democrats.

No, not those ones, the ones who are not that liberal and democratic only when it suits them, but these Liberal Democrats, who do actually believe in unashamedly liberal policies. According to the Australian Libertarian Society's blog Thoughts on Freedom, who I hope don't mind me quoting them en bloc below, the LDP had a pretty good night in the three eastern states and missed out on winning a New South Wales Senate seat by only 20,000 votes.
Yesterday’s election result shows Australia has a new political force – the Liberal Democratic Party.

In only our second federal election (and the first under our proper name), the party gained over 2% of the Senate vote in NSW and Queensland and 1.5% in Victoria. It is fifth highest in these states.

We also negotiated an excellent flow of preferences in NSW and will either win a seat or (more likely) be the last ones eliminated.

A couple of parties representing narrow interests did OK – the Sex Party, and Shooters and Fishers for example, but the LDP differs from these because it stands for individual choice and freedom, embracing the interests of all the “freedom” parties and combining them into a coherent philosophy.

Federal elections are tough for small parties. It’s nigh on impossible to win a seat in the HoR and a Senate spot is a long stretch. We have every intention of keeping at it, but our immediate focus will be on building our brand by getting state divisions up and running. There are seats in State parliaments that are a lot easier to win than a seat in the Senate.

Our focus will also be on fund raising. We believe our vote would have been a great deal higher if every voter had known who we were and what we stood for. Achieving that is simply a matter of money.
Pretty good for a party contesting a federal election for only the second time, and perhaps a reason for some cautious optimism for the LPUK. Electoral success in terms of winning actual seats is clearly not going to happen overnight either here in Oz or in the UK, but fighting elections is still worth it for libertarian parties if only to get your parties name more widely known from being seen on ballot papers and on election results. That can lead to people wondering who the hell [insert name here] are, what they stand for and whether they might have been worth voting for, and maybe then a little surfing to try to find out more, which might be why is currently down having exceeded its bandwidth - maybe a few Sex Party or Shooters and Fishers Party voters, and dare we hope even a few disenchanted liberal (note lower case 'l') leaning main party voters, have been checking it out.

Incidentally, the point that it's hard for small parties to win Senate seats and even harder for them to win a seat in the House of Representatives is something that Brits should keep in mind when the Cobbleition's promised referendum on Alternative Voting and the accompanying debate on other electoral systems comes up in the UK. I've not made any secret of my liking, albeit with caveats, for Australian style preferential voting and that I'd be in favour off, though again with caveats, of AV in Britain, but the fact remains that a small party must still grow into what I think of as a minor party for it to be of much benefit. Even then it's worth pointing out that the one of the most well known minor parties, the Greens, has only just this weekend won it's very first House of Reps seat. Not only has it taken them 18 years and has come about 15 years after they first got into the Senate - and I'd say with the benefit of a lot of media exposure in a small g green sense - it's also been after their British co-worriers won a seat in the Commons under First Past The Post. The HoR isn't exactly elected by AV but the preferential voting system used is similar enough that I think the point is relevant, and the Senate election is basically Single Transferrable Vote PR... and yet it's still a bastard for small parties to get in the HoR and a serious challenge to get in the Senate. If anyone thinks adopting AV in Britain will immediately mean results for smaller parties they should think again. They'll no doubt benefit, but I feel the likes of the LPUK (being the only ones I would personally like to see gain from it) will still need to get their name and values known and their arguments heard and won in public before even STV, much less an AV type system, will translate into winning any seats.

Just my tuppence worth, or 2¢ as the case may be.

Declaration of interest: I am not a member of any party in the UK or Australia, though given the option on a ballot paper of either the LPUK on that side of the world or the LDP here they're likely to be my preference (pun not intended but not easy to avoid). I don't always agree with absolutely everything either of them say, but as I've said before, I'm fucked if I'm going to keep holding my nose while voting for people and parties I think are bastards just because they're a safer bet to win than parties whose values are mostly close to my own.
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