The outcome of the 2019 Federal Election was far from predictable – even Prime Minister Scott Morrison saw re-election as an uphill battle, saying of the win he ‘always believed in miracles’. And while the Coalition narrowly came out on top this time, the close call means the major parties have little to boast about, since the number of votes they received continued to fall.
As a general rule, from the 1950s until 2000, a political party required at least a primary vote of 44 per cent to form government. But since the turn of the century, most governments have formed with a much lower percentage. In fact, 44 per cent of the primary vote was achieved only twice in the past seven federal elections. This trend has also been observed in a number of state elections in recent years.
In the 1970s and 80s the two main parties would routinely collect more than 90 per cent of the first preference votes between them. In the 2019 Federal Election, they earned less than 75 per cent of first preference votes. In fact, one in four people voted for a minor party in the House of Representatives; one in three voted for a minor party in the Senate; and one in four seats are now marginal seats (less than five per cent of votes).
While there have been exceptions to this trend, such as the landslide victory in 2007, even landslides are not what they used to be. Increasingly powerful minor parties is a trend that is also occurring in other Western democracies.