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The upcoming election is being fought on the basis of the incumbent Labor government vs. the Liberal National Coalition Opposition. What is currently not being discussed is the loss of support for the Greens. A number of commentators suggested that the 2010 Federal election was the high point of support for the Greens, and based on their recent results in NSW, WA, Queensland as well as council elections, the Greens are in a distinct position of losing support during the upcoming election.

An interesting series of articles popped up recently. One talked about how the Greens are going to be the biggest losers from the upcoming Federal Election. Another article opined why people with left wing views should be joining the ALP rather than the Greens.

The question is why?

There are several schools of thoughts on this, and I plan to look at each of them.

  1. Preference deals
    1. It has been suggested that the only reason Adam Bandt got elected in the Federal seat of Melbourne was on Liberal preferences. This theory seems to be supported as the Liberal Party and the Labor Party did a preference deal in the Victorian State election that resulted in the Greens picking up no lower house seats. Some discussions have been floated to suggest that such a preference deal may be done in both the House of Representatives as well as in the Senate in some, if not all, areas of Australia to limit, if not prevent, the Greens from picking up seats. The thinking behind this will be explained later.
  2. Negotiations in Parliament
    1. The Greens tend to be very forthright in their opinions and policy positions in recent history, specifically not negotiating while operating in a minority government position. This has resulted in a lot of negative coverage about the party as a whole, as their unwillingness to negotiate has resulted in policy outcomes counter to their own party position. It has been suggested that the current Government position on “boat people” and asylum seekers is a direct result of the Green’s inability to negotiate with the ALP.
  3. Policy positions
    1. The Greens have traditionally taken some extreme left wing policy positions on matters outside of their traditional protest area of environmental policy. Many people have memories of the NSW Greens candidate who suggested a boycott of Israeli products in the council of Marrickville due to XXX – this led to enormous problems for the party at both the State and Federal level. These more unusual policies are discussed more than their more popular policies, like same-sex marriage.
  4. Better the devil you know
    1. The point I was hinting at earlier was the concept of “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know”. It is my sincere belief that both the Coalition and the Labor Party would rather see each other get into Parliament than any other party. The reason for this is that both parties have personal relationships at the individual politician level which makes legislation negotiations easier and more mainstreamed. Some would say that it means that legislation is not dealt with properly, but the understanding between the parties will go smoothly. This will ensure that more legislation can be dealt with, rather than have it bogged down in long debates in Parliament over meaningless political debates.

This is just my thinking on the topic, and given the recent release of the Senate voting preference flows (you can find them here along with all the candidates) as well as the announcement that Tony Abbott will preference Labor above the Greens across the board (while Labor and the Greens are still to decide any preference deals), makes for an interesting election season.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

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