Australian voters have changed their minds about who should control the Senate.
Their love of voting for major party to form government but then casting a just-in-case vote for a minor party in the Senate is dissipating.
The “Keep the Bastards Honest” catch phrase of the former Australian Democrats, who positioned themselves as a Senate check on the the power of the major parties, doesn’t apply as it used to, according to a major study that has been tracking Australian elections for 26 years.
However, the shift is yet to translate into actual election outcomes, as was seen in last September’s federal poll.
The latest Australian Election Study from the Australian National University shows that voters, for the first time in at least two decades, want the government to control both Houses of Parliament.
The proof of this could be the re-run of the the Senate election in Western Australia.
Ian McAllister, professor of political science at ANU, says attitudes to government control of the Senate reflects dissatisfaction with the 2010-13 minority Labor government.
“This hasn’t dissipated with the election of a majority Coalition government but it probably doesn’t shift votes.” he says.
“Clearly some people didn’t like the 2010-13 minority government. Does it change voting behaviour? Probably not to any extent.”
He says the proportion of voters who still split their ticket between the two Houses is the highest it has been since the survey started.
This chart shows more (42%) now think it’s better when the government controls both Houses than when the government doesn’t control the Senate:
But the voters also show their split ticket voting is higher than ever.
The Australian Election Study has tracked trends in Australian public opinion since 1987, by surveying a representative sample of people following federal elections. The 2013 study surveyed 3,955 people.
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