Australia just finished their election on July 2nd to elect members to the 45th Parliament of Australia. While the election happened over a week ago, we are just now seeing the final results. Australia has a relatively simple Parliament. The House of Representatives (lower house) is composed of 150 members, electing in single districts, however they are elected with preferential ballots. The Senate (upper house), has 76 senators representing a state or territory, these are elected using STV. Wait ... that already seems complicated, and it is! To make things worse, all of these ballots are counted by hand. This means that counting takes a ridiculously long time. However, this may change, as the country considers switching to e-voting, in order to speed up the results process. And still, at the time of writing this, all votes have not yet been counted. Just over 80% of the vote had been counted, however the pundits have safely predicted who is most likely to win the seat, as the remaining votes are highly unlikely to make a huge difference. So, what are the results? At the time of this writing..
Liberal/National Coalition: 76
This means that we have another right-wing conservative majority government in Australia. However for a week we were in a situation where we really did not know who would win, so finally having a result is much better. What is important though is this does not capture the true change in what happened.
What we saw was a huge swing against the government, a loss of 3.4%, which was nearly exclusively from the Liberal vote. The only members of the coalition to see its first preference vote increase was The Nationals, which gained 0.6%. The opposition Labor party saw an increase of 1.5%, the Greens gained 1.3%. The Palmer United party saw their entire vote collapse, and other minor parties gained 4.2%. We also saw the rise of a new party, especially in South Australia, where the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) gained 21.3% of the vote in that state alone. That was really there only high support area, having only 1.9% of the nationwide vote. However the effect of this party, especially running on a platform claiming to be different then the other two mainstream parties, is still not fully known. What we do know, is that this party will be hugely influential in this new senate.
A less controlled senate
This was a special election, a double dissolution, which I don't fully understand, however it resulted in the entire senate being up for election at the same time. The government wanted to bring in legislation to restore the ABCC (Australian Building and Construction Commission), however the senate at the time refused to pass it, and through some constitutional measures Prime Minister Turnbull was able to call for both houses to be dissolved. The goal was for more stability in parliament and for them to have the ability to pass necessary legislation. That did not happen.
Where do we go from here
Another 3 years of a Liberal/National right-wing government, however with a renewed opposition ready to make sure the government stays on track. After a devastating loss in the 2013 election, the Labor party has made a real comeback, and Bill Shorten will continue to be an effective opposition leader. Malcolm Turnball has squeaked out enough seats to remain in power, and have a working majority in the house. However, he must be faced with the facts of the vote loss, and the clear mandate giving to the Labor party to save medicare. Secondly, he will also have to battle this new senate, that is really his fault. It was his choice to call for the double dissolution. Finally, all MPs and Senators were giving a mandate to work for the people, and I'm optimistic they will see that through. I just hope they won't have to go back to the polls before the three year mandate is up.