Saturday, December 22, 2007

Shooting Themselves in the Foot

Among the many news stories that turn up on everyday was a little gem the other day about how a Nationals Queensland MP suggested that the possible merger of the conservative parties in Queensland should include those some might consider a little extreme, namely Family First and One Nation. The rational seems to be that those parties draw voters away from the Nationals and Liberals, so to avoid splitting the vote they should be included.

This seems stupid because the fringe parties get only a small share of the votes (although this is Queensland where One Nation actually did pretty well for itself), and preferences would then flow to the larger conservative party. Also, including these parties into a large combined conservative party would possibly scare away those close to the middle who while preferring the coalition to Labor, don't want to support those on the far right.

I can only hope that they do do this, and suffer as a consequence (I'm not exactly a fan of the conservative parties).

End Post
Writing time: 49 minutes (I got distracted)
Time since last post: two days
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Chris_the_Blogger said...

Eh, it wouldn't be very good for democracy. Though this is Queensland, not exactly one of democracy's strongholds.

David Barry said...

Queensland's optional preferential voting, combined with those strong Beattie "Just vote 1" campaign means that when two candidates from the same half of the political spectrum run against each, the preferences don't flow as they would in a federal election.

During election coverage when there's optional preferential voting, you often here Antony Green make comments like, "You don't make up that sort of deficit with optional preferences."

Given the poor state of conservatives in Queensland, it's not too surprising that someone would would a single united conservative party.

Having said that, One Nation only ran four candidates at the last state election. Of these, they won one seat, two were irrelevant (one in safe National, one in safe Labor), and one could presumably have been significant had there been a 5% bigger swing to the conservatives.

So the benefit from merging with One Nation would be very small. The costs are reasonably obvious.

Merging with Family First makes a good deal more sense, and comes with a much smaller ideological cost - I don't think that they're as extreme as you make them out to be.

David Barry said...

When I say that merging with FF makes sense, I mean that it makes sense for the Coalition. I'm not sure if FF would want to merge.