STUDY: Australians Dislike Their Politicians More Than Ever, And Tony Abbott Is The Most Unpopular PM In 26 Years

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Australia’s political leaders broke new records of unpopularity at the 2013 federal election.

While Tony Abbott led the Liberal-National coalition to victory over a divided Labor Party, the ANU’s Australian Election Study found Abbott to be the least popular leader to win an election since the study began to track public opinion in 1987.

For the first time none of Australia’s political leaders scored above a mean of 5 on the scale of 0-10, with 0 for strongly dislike and 10 for strongly like.

Nationals leader Warren Truss was the most popular following the 2013 election with a score of 4.34, followed by Abbott with 4.29.

Labor leaders Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd scored 4.04 and 4.07 respectively, while Greens leader Christine Milne was the least popular on 3.81.

“The Australian Election Study shows that Australian politicians are less popular than ever,” said Sarah Cameron, who co-wrote the report with Professor Ian McAllister, both from the ANU School of Politics and International Relations.

“Tony Abbott, on average, is less popular than any Prime Minister in the history of the study, which began in 1987.

“However, Abbott compared favourably to former Labor leaders Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard after the 2013 election.”

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.

Other key findings:

  • The most important election issues in 2013 were management of the economy (at 28%), health (19%), education (15%), taxation (11%) and refugees and asylum seekers (10%).
  • More Australians prefer the coalition’s policies on taxation, immigration and refugees/asylum seekers. More Australians prefer the Labor Party’s policies on education, health, the environment, and global warming.
  • Satisfaction with democracy dropped to 72% in 2010 and 2013, compared to scores above 80% in 2004 and 2007. Potential explanations include the minority government of 2010, Labor party leadership turmoil, and lower levels of leader popularity.
  • While Australia is one of few developed nations to avoid recession following the global financial crisis, increasing numbers of Australians believe the country’s financial situation is declining. This downward trend began in 2007. Over the same time frame more Australians evaluated their household financial situation as becoming worse.

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