Greens take balance of power in Australian Senate

Exciting news out of Australia for those Green-inclined. Malcolm Mackerras, of the Australian, ahead of the election:

I have the Greens as the big winners. I am predicting them to win a seat in each state. Having won a seat in each of WA, SA and Tasmania in 2007 I am showing them as two senators in each of those three states and one each in NSW, Victoria and Queensland where they are currently without representation. A total of nine.

Thus Labor and the Greens, when acting together with 41 senators, would dominate the chamber of 76.

The results were even better:

The Greens are arguably the biggest winners on the night, increasing their representation in the parliament to nine senators (and an MP to boot).

If the current results hold, the new Senate make-up will see the LNP hold 34 seats, the ALP 31 seats, the Greens nine seats and Madigan and South Australian Nick Xenophon will be the two independents.

The Greens have made a major step forward, going from 5 to 9 Senators in the 76 member body. They now hold the balance of power in the Australian Senate.

In the Lower House, the balance of power will be held by 4 Independents and a Green.

And the Greens emerged as the big winners in the reshaping of the political landscape, taking the balance of power in the Senate as well as the lower house seat of Melbourne.

Lower house independents Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter said they would meet to discuss how they would approach forming a stable government but in separate interviews on the ABC all three refused to back either Labor or the Coalition.

I've included a good background of the GP in Australia in the extended.

Locally grown Greens thrive as part of global left-wing movement

THE Australian Greens party was founded in 1992.

Its roots go back to the United Tasmania Group -- the world's first green party -- in 1972 and the Tasmanian Greens in the 1980s.

Today the party has five senators and 22 elected representatives in state and territory parliaments.

The Greens party considers itself part of a global green movement and takes a leftist position on social issues and a predominantly pacifist approach to foreign policy.

It opposes uranium mining and nuclear power, supports asylum-seekers, backs the extension of public transport, argues for renewable energy, wants increased corporate tax, and supports same-sex marriage.

Nationwide support for the party has risen from 2.4 per cent in 1996 to 9.04 per cent in 2007.

Its support is strongest in inner-city electorates such as Melbourne (22.7 per cent in 2007), Sydney (20.7 per cent), Denison, Tasmania (18.6 per cent) and Wentworth, NSW (15 per cent).

According to the latest Newspoll, support for the Greens stands at 12 per cent, down from a high of 16 per cent in May.

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Note that Australia uses proportional representation

such as preferential voting in House races and "single transferable vote" in Senate races. See 

by jcullen 2010-08-21 03:17PM | 0 recs

this is why I think building a progressive green party is an imperative here and worldwide.

In Colombia, the Greens would have won if not for the orchestrated smears that Jack Leslie (a Democratic strategist tied to Ted Kennedy) and Jim Carville spread. Jack Leslie ran the Santos campaign. Santos didn't make a move without consulting Leslie. Leslie targeted the poor and painted Mockus as a Chávez loving atheist who sleeps in the nude. Still the Greens took 27 percent of the vote though voter turnout was the lowest in Colombian history, just 45 percent voted. In Brazil, the Greens will finish third in the vote in a country that has over 50 political parties. In the UK, the Greens won their first seat in the House of Commons back in May.

The Green surge came at the expense of Labor and it was largely due to Kevin Rudd's decision to pull the emissions trading system. The Greens also campaigned on gay marriage saying it was time to bring Australia "into the 21st century."

And the concurrent story that matters just as much is the poor showing of the Family First party, the Aussie version of US Focus on the Family. 

The fact that the Senate is proportional is critical. Still, we have a hung Parliament and that likely means when the dust settles Abbott is PM. What I know about the four indies is that there are truly indies (unlike Lieberman). 

Still despite the Green win, it was a blue tory night. Here's a bit how Abbott is thinking:

“What is clear from tonight is that the Labor Party has definitely lost its majority, and what that means is that the government has lost its legitimacy,” Mr Abbott said.

“And I say that a government which found it very hard to govern effecitvely with a majority of 17 seats will never be able to govern effectively in a minority.”

Mr Abbott said the Liberal and National Parties were “back in business”.

“We stand ready to govern,” he said.

It is horrific prospect to have the Coalition back in business. Just like in New Zealand the Conservatives stand to pull back on climate and it bears noting that despite Rudd's backtrack on the ETS, his government has done more on climate than any other country. This is a setback despite the Green breakthrough.

While I think important to build Green parties everywhere, as long as we have first past the post systems then their gains are going to come at the expense of centre-left parties. If I vote for Green here, that means the Dems aren't getting my vote and thus that helps the Republicans. It's a dilemma I struggle with.

The Greens took over 11 percent of the vote increasing their share of the vote over 2007 by nearly 40 percent and yet they only won one electorate in Melbourne. They came close to a second in Tasmania, the reddest state in Australia. By red, of course, I mean leftist. Why does the US do everything backwards. Every where in the world and for over a century red is the coiour of the left and red the colour of the right. 

by Charles Lemos 2010-08-21 04:47PM | 0 recs
Love the Spin!

This is great, the conservatives gain more seats than expected and we're supposed to be happy that the Greens "hold the balance of power"? Hell I've voted for the Green party myself on occasion, but i'll call a spade a spade. This is not a good day for the left.

by vecky 2010-08-21 07:17PM | 0 recs
RE: Love the Spin!

The prediction was 41 seats for Labor and the Greens, the outcome was 40 seats. When the body consists of 76 seats, how you can configure that a great day for conservatives is mind-boggling.

What this represents is exactly what Charles refers to above, the Greens will now be able to make sure that envirnomental concerns are not pushed aside by the ALP as happened recently.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-08-22 07:45AM | 0 recs
RE: Love the Spin!

I never said it was a great day for conservatives, rather that they did better than expected and left did correspondingly worse. Abbott was considered nigh unelectable just a few weeks ago. The economy was humming along, approval rating were high - the left should have had this election in the bag. Instead they threw much of it away. 

by vecky 2010-08-23 05:16PM | 0 recs
RE: Love the Spin!

The left, the Greens, did exceedingly better than expected. They now hold the balance of power. The post is entirely about the Greens, and the unexpected gains they have made in the Senate; and, arguably, puts the Greens in the most powerful political position they have ever had as a global party in any country.

There, I made a mega-claim in that last independent clause above. You might find something historically that says its an over-reach. It'd be a better route for you to tread then trying to make this post about something other than the Green Party in Australia's Senate.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-08-28 12:07PM | 0 recs
RE: Love the Spin!

And I don't see any "Love" from the likes of you.

All you do is drive-bye and take jabs art Jerome!  Surely the likes of you are so chasened now that you types are taking stock of your mistakes and many errors?  Jerome has more knowlege, understanding, sense and real political success storeis than anyone else in this place!  If you stop and pause to read his diary over again, but this time c-a-r-e-f-u-e-l-y, you will see that he spelled everything for you.  Yes, even for the likes of you!  Jerome is just kind and helpful that way.   And he's extra helpful because he gave you some extra, personal tutoring!

Now try and take a chill pill and try to listen to those who know more (and usually better), and better yourself with the benefit of thier deep and intensive knowledge!

And I'm not even going to comment on how you might have meant that crack about a 'spade'!


by 2010-08-22 10:27AM | 0 recs


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