There is a voting block in Australia that is ignored and disorganised, but ready to be galvanized. It’s part of a worldwide phenomenon. Readers who havent read the first post on the Delcons phenomenon ought start there.
An election is likely to be called any day. There are 15 million voters enrolled in Australia. If 4% of Liberal-Nat voters are Delcons, that’s about 2% of the total voter pool or 300,000 people who don’t matter. And that’s a conservative, pardon the pun, estimate. Another 10% of Liberal voters said they are “a little less likely” to vote for the Liberal Party at the next election. These voters are not lost from the leftie end of the Liberal Party fan club. Potentially there are another 750,000 who could be convinced to instead vote National, ALA, Lib Dem, Family First or some other option should it appear. All up, these 14% of Lib voters have a million votes and are the most passionate sixth of Liberal supporters.
What could possibly go wrong?
Picture 300,000 less Liberal donors, volunteers, scrutineers, and people to hand out how-to-vote cards at 7,000 polling booths on July 2nd. Imagine 300,000 fewer website commenters willing to defend Liberal policy, and who can explain why punters should vote Liberal at BBQ’s. And if you can explain why a Liberal supporter should vote Liberal, a lot of people want to hear that. Speak up. :- )
Sinclair Davidson’s “Not even 14%” estimate is that 14% of Liberal voters is only 6.4% of total voters. “Only”.
That 14% of people who vote Liberal or National. According to the same Essential Media report at the last election 45.6% voted Liberal or National, so the number should be 0.14*0.456 = 6.4%.
I just wonder if the 6.4% ever reflect on David Cameron’s victory in the last UK election?
The UK “Delcon” experience is very different — they have first-past-the-post voting. The centrist sell-out Cameron even shifted to the right before the election, to stem the losses to UKIP. Despite both of those factors, Cameron still lost 3.8 million voters to UKIP in a land where a UKIP vote was high risk: many voters were afraid a vote for UKIP might split the conservative side and elect Labor. (As an aside, because of the first-past-the-post system, UKIP won only 2 seats and came second in 118 seats — and there are serious calls for UK voting reform. At the same election, the UK Labor Party got 9 million votes.) But that’s the UK. Here, the voters can fine tune the degree of pain and the message they want to send due to preferential voting. Cameron’s remarkable win in the UK was partly thanks to Nigel Farage and UKIP resetting all the bounds of the debate, and partly thanks to a silly voting system.
We haven’t even talked about the 35% of the “Vote other” component (which is 12% of all voters) — add another 4% to the tally?
The Liberal Party is a ghost train
Some people think the Delcon phenomenon is only about revenge, and is purely an Abbott-Turnbull coup thing. They miss the point. It’s about policy, like a rerun of November 2009.
These 300,000 were the ones who wrote letters and emails and swamped the party when Turnbull demanded the Libs support the K-Rudd emissions trading scheme. They threw Turnbull out then for the unelectable Tony Abbott, who went on and got elected in one of the largest wins in Australian politics. The Delcons don’t want to elect Turnbull now any more than they did then.
Remember too, that Turnbull could have taken a lot of the fire out of the Delcon / Defcon movement at little cost. He could have done things like getting rid of 18C, stopping subsidies to renewables, fixing up or selling the ABC and generally doing less to change the weather — they are “free” budget-wise. The cost with these is to face down the namecalling bullies. In 2009 Turnbull fell on his sword over emissions trading. Nothing has changed.
Defcons – a worldwide phenomenon
New parties are hard to form, but such is the demand that throughout the western world new parties are starting up and taking off, radically changing the voting landscape. It’s not just UKIP. In the US the Republican establishment is now threatened, and dominated by Tea Party types, like Trump and Cruz. In Germany, the AfD is the third most popular party, already represented in 8 of 16 German States and hoping to win majorities in 18 months time. In the Netherlands, Gert Wilders and the Freedom Party leads the opinion polls, and he could easily be the next Prime Minister there. (He came to Australia to launch the ALA last October, and is so “dangerous” on antipodean soil that they were not even able to find an indoor venue where he would be able to speak without wind, weather and rude collectivist hecklers! Really?)
So what’s the Australian plan? Who will harness this energy, frustration and votes?
What choice do the frustrated Defcons have? I laid out a possible Defcon strategic voting strategy, [lose the House, win the Senate, support minor parties and good Libs] and waited for the die-hard Liberal fans to explain how it was wrong and explain why people should still vote for a Turnbull government. Instead hundreds of commenters debated how to vote, but hardly any suggested Defcons put the Libs first on the ticket. The debate was about whether to go mass informal, or vote Labor. (“Vote Labor” means putting Labor third last on the ticket instead of second last. That’s the “nuclear” option with short term pain, but hopefully a longer term reward.) In the long run the Defcons need to either to set up a new party, or join a preexisting one and clean up present Partys through pre-selection. Perhaps tricky preferences are not the solution to a problem that has been years in the making?
[UPDATE: A recap of the first Delcon post — is it better to have a fake conservative government or a good conservative opposition? It’s not productive to “blow up” a party out of spite, but if the Liberal base will vote Liberal no matter what the policy or principle, then it is utterly inevitable that the Liberals will move centre left and ignore the centre right. The current situation is not just bad for Liberals, it’s bad for both sides. It takes a stronger Liberal Party to bring out higher standards in the Labor Party too. Right now, both sides think they can control the weather, and are switching leaders like last weeks underwear.]
Paul Zanetti spots the political movement shifting through the web but unnoticed by the media:
Has anyone else noticed there’s a political movement underway in Australia that much of the media isn’t quite plugged into yet?
In the reader comments section of every news site, every blog, every social media post after every terror attack, every Delcon opinion post, Turnbull poll piece, Shorten policy announcement, mosque story and debt and deficit update you’ll pick up the mood swing.
“I’ve had enough of the Libs, I’m voting ALA.”
“I’ve been a Liberal Party member and volunteer all my life. No more. It’s ALA for me.”
And on and on it goes. Every day. White. Hot. Anger.
Many of the centre right votes will be split, as many minor parties contest the Senate in a double dissolution. But as David Leyonhjelm argues, the Lib Dems cover most of the hot topics. In this case, it’s all about preference flows:
This analysis fills the Liberal Democrats with confidence. Each of our policies – from cutting income tax to defending the rights of social pariahs like smokers and sporting shooters – attracts a niche of supporters who, sadly, have nowhere else to turn. Our vote isn’t split, and could be enough to get us over the line in each State at a double dissolution.
The 53 Liberals who turfed out Abbott are being lined up to be targeted in a strategic voting campaign by active, passionate people with energy. So far Turnbull doesn’t even acknowledge the Defcon phenomenon, let alone make concessions like David Cameron did. And without the risks of the “first past the post” system, Turnbull is going to have to offer a lot more than Cameron did. With his history it may already be beyond the point where Turnbull can offer anything the Defcons would buy.