Modern Voting Patterns Test Major Parties' Nerves



The Age


The author argues that the reasons Australians vote the way they do, or fail to vote at all, are becoming more complex.

Statistics show that despite Australia’s system of compulsory enrolment and voting, there is a growing number of eligible voters who don’t enrol. There is also an increasing number who cast informal votes that won't be counted in the result.

Party loyalty has declined, voters may vote for different parties throughout their lifetime, and even vote differently for different levels of government. The reasons for this are varied and can include religion, ethnicity, education, gender and class, parties’ performance, leaders’ performance, economic conditions, and issues that play out during election campaigns.

The author contends the increase in swinging voters is the most significant change in voting behaviour in Australia since the 1920s and has resulted in the major parties losing votes to minor parties and independents.

While voter behaviour is complex, some trends are clear. Weaker voter attachment to the major parties will enhance the role of medium and short-term influences and will make electoral results increasingly unpredictable and volatile.


Thumbnail image: Flickr, DIPB Images.

Sally Young

University of Melbourne

Published Date
December 3, 2014