Was this election really a massive shift?

There has been a lot of talk that this election has heralded a massive change in Australian politics. There have been a few unique things in this election, it’s the first time a new party has won a seat in the House of Representatives (not counting Pauline Hanson), in 90 years, and the first hung parliament in 70 years. The question is whether these are symptomatic of broader changes, or just flukes from this election.

First – how low is the major party vote at this election? The chart below shows the fraction of the vote going to major parties (Liberal, National and ALP or the parties that are a direct ancestor from these parties).

It’s fairly apparent that since the 70s there seems to have been a trend for the major party vote to decline, but this election isn’t quite the lowest the major parties have hit, even in recent years.

When we look in a bit more detail at the composition of the vote, it seems that it’s quite common for one minor party to get around 10%- and the Greens did a bit better than that. The bigger trend over recent years has been for the independent vote to increase.

So how unusual was this election, and will we see more hung parliaments? Hung parliaments will probably still be unusual in the future – to have the ALP and Coalition vote this close is unusual, so one side or the other will probably get a majority in their own right. It’s quite common for a minor party to get 10% or so of the vote, but the independents have been stedily increasing their vote – and their numbers in parliament. The number of independents may continue to grow, although they will probably be limited to rural areas. The biggest question is whether the Greens will continue to increase, or drop away like other minor parties have.

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