(Two updates to this post – The Australian is reporting that the Liberal Party is considering the tactic I describe in this post. Second, the Liberals are using a lot of “Put Labor Last” slogans. In an era when fewer voters see how-to-votes, planting a “Put Labor Last” message can influence a voter, which as a by-product produces stronger flows of Liberal preferences to the Greens.)
During the 2010 Victorian Election campaign, the Liberal Party sprung a surprise by announcing that it would recommend preference to the Labor Party ahead of the Greens on Liberal how-to-vote material.
At the time it seemed an odd decision as it ensured that the Labor Party would not be under threat from the Greens in inner-city seats.
I’ve heard alternate views on whether the decision was a clever tactic to win the election or an admission the party didn’t expect to win. Either way, the decision was definitely in line with what many party members wanted. Many had been unhappy that Liberal preferences elected Greens’ candidate Adam Bandt as the new member for Melbourne at the August 2010 Federal election. Bandt polled 36.2% on first preferences to Labor 38.1%, an 80% flow of Liberal preferences responsible for Bandt winning.
It was becoming hypocritical for the Liberal Party to criticise Labor for being too close to the Greens when Liberal how-to-votes were actively helping to elect Greens in both upper and lower houses.
So the decision made for the 2010 Victorian election, and repeated at Victorian and Federal elections since, put Liberal preferences in ideological alignment with the position of the three parties on the political spectrum. Labor was put ahead of the Greens because the Greens were further to the left than Labor.
Putting the Australian Democrats ahead of Labor had always made sense for the Liberal Party. The Democrats were a more centrist party on many issues than Labor, and were also a party the Coalition could negotiate with in the Senate.
There have been rumours that there may be a change of strategy for the coming Victorian election.
If so there is logic as to why. It comes down to deciding whether strategy or ideology is the better tactic for deciding on preferences.Read More »Should the Victorian Liberal Party Change its Lower House Preference Policy?