WA senate election 2014: allegiances

At first glance, it’s difficult to make much of the group voting ticket (GVT) data.

One of the most important bits of information, I feel, is whether each party preferences the Liberals before or after Labor. Or, to ask a slightly more complicated question, how does each party rank the most likely winners? The answer would allow us to categorise microparties’ own ideology, which can otherwise be tricky. Quite often, the only other readily accessible information on microparties is the blurb they put on their websites.

I’ll look at the top five parties, by primary senate votes received in the 2013 federal election. These are: Liberals (2.7 quotas), Labor (1.9 quotas), Greens (0.66 quotas), Nationals (0.35 quotas) and Palmer United (0.35 quotas). These parties are the main game1.

So, I’ve boiled down the group voting ticket (GVT) data to a set of rankings of these parties2. Based on the results, there are a few clear categories. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of confusion as to whose side Clive Palmer is on (other than his own). However, the person of the moment must be Labor’s Louise Pratt, who has been treated almost as an independent in the preferences of several minor parties.

I couldn’t think of a good way to visualise this graphically, so I’ll just use bullet points.

Allies of the Coalition, enemies of the Greens

The following parties (with a rather libertarian flavour) all put the Coalition ahead of Labor, and the Greens last:

  • Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party
  • Australian Voice
  • Building Australia Party
  • Freedom and Prosperity Party
  • Liberal Democrats
  • Mutual Party
  • Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens)
  • Palmer United
  • Shooters and Fishers
  • Smokers Rights

These parties all place the Liberals and Nationals next to each other (one way around or the other). However, they disagree over Palmer United, with some putting PUP first (including, obviously, PUP itself), and others putting it behind Labor, but still ahead of the Greens.

There are four more parties that basically fit this mould, but which seem to be making personal judgements of certain individual candidates:

  • Australian Christians (concerning Joe Bullock and Linda Reynolds)
  • Democratic Labour Party (concerning Louise Pratt)
  • Family First (concerning Louise Pratt)
  • Rise Up Australia Party (concerning Louise Pratt)

These all have a very social conservative flavour. In what seems like a personal grudge, The DLP, FF and RUAP have taken special care to put Labor’s Louise Pratt after even their Greens arch-enemy, probably for being particularly outspoken on social justice issues. And, for reasons that escape me, the Australian Christians have elevated Labor’s Joe Bullock above the Liberals’ Linda Reynolds.

Neutral on Labor vs Liberal, but still hate the Greens

There are two parties running dual tickets, with the order of Labor and the Liberals switched around:

  • Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party
  • Katter’s Australia Party

Both place PUP and Nationals first and second, and the Greens last.

Prefer Liberals, but (perhaps) don’t mind the Greens

Another two parties that stick out:

  • Australian Sports Party (which, of course, won a seat in the recount, and then lost it again when the election was annulled)
  • Republican Party of Australia

These two prefer the Liberals, Greens and then Labor, in that order — a relatively unusual combination recently (though it used to be common practice for the Liberals themselves).

Allies of Labor/Greens, but Labor first

This rather short list of parties (plus independent) put Labor first and the Coalition last:

  • Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party
  • Russell Wolf (independent)
  • Sex Party

HEMP puts PUP ahead of the Greens, while the other two put the Greens ahead of PUP.

Allies of the Labor/Greens, but Greens first

A few more parties put the Greens and Labor ahead of the other three major choices:

  • Animal Justice Party
  • Pirate Party
  • Secular Party of Australia
  • Socialist Alliance
  • The Wikileaks Party, which gives special consideration to the Greens’ Scott Ludlam and Labor’s Louise Pratt, placing them individually before the Greens and Labor.

These parties also tend to prefer the Nationals to the Liberals, except for Animal Justice (which possibly associates the Nationals with shooting and slaughtering things). They put PUP anywhere from 3rd to last.

[ Addendum (2014-03-24): the Animal Justice Party actually has dual tickets, both of which interlace the positions of the Labor and Greens candidates, two-by-two; i.e. two Labor candidates, then two Greens candidates, then two more Labor, etc. One ticket starts with Labor, the other with the Greens. ]

Finally, there are three more special cases:

  • The Australian Democrats have dual tickets, both preferencing PUP and then the Greens, but alternating the positions of Labor and the Coalition.
  • The Sustainable Population Party has three tickets that rotate the positions of Labor, the Greens and the Coalition. At first glance, this appears to be neutral, but if you look closely you’ll see that, on balance, the Greens come out slightly ahead and the Liberals slightly behind. (You could arrange three tickets such that any three parties are evenly-preferenced, so it’s informative that SPP hasn’t done this.) They also put the Nationals first and PUP last.
  • The Voluntary Euthanasia Party has dual tickets, both of which put the Coalition last and favour the Greens over Labor, yet single out Labor’s Louise Pratt again for special promotion. One of the tickets puts Pratt ahead of the Greens, and the rest of Labor ahead of PUP, while the other puts Pratt behind the Greens, and the rest of Labor behind PUP.

Conclusion

If you’re voting below the line, hopefully you’ll find this analysis useful in developing your own preferences. The ephemeral microparties often have very positive-sounding names, but it’s difficult to know at a glance what they’re really all about.

Even if you’re voting above the line, this may still give you a rough idea of who believes what, so that you know what you’re doing when you write that single “1” on your giant ballot paper.

Update (2014-03-24) — full preference list

For completeness, here’s the actual list of major preferences. For each party, the top five parties are listed in order of preference. Numbers in brackets indicate the number of contiguous candidates. Where lone candidates appear separate from the rest of their party, their names are shown.

Party Ticket # Major Preferences
The Wikileaks Party A 1 Greens (LUDLAM), Labor (PRATT), Greens [5], Labor [3], Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [4]
National B 1 National [2], Liberal [4], Palmer United Party [3], Labor [4], Greens [6]
Independent: Russell Woolf C 1 Labor [4], Greens [6], Liberal [2], Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [2]
Australian Democrats D 1 Palmer United Party [3], Greens [6], Labor [4], National [2], Liberal [4]
Australian Democrats D 2 Palmer United Party [3], Greens [6], National [2], Liberal [4], Labor [4]
Pirate Party E 1 Greens [6], Labor [4], National [2], Palmer United Party [3], Liberal [4]
Labor F 1 Labor [4], Greens [6], Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [4]
Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party G 1 Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Labor [4], Liberal [4], Greens [6]
Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party G 2 Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [4], Labor [4], Greens [6]
Freedom and Prosperity Party H 1 Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [4], Labor [4], Greens [6]
Voluntary Euthanasia Party I 1 Greens [6], Labor (PRATT), Palmer United Party [3], Labor [3], National [2], Liberal [4]
Voluntary Euthanasia Party I 2 Labor (PRATT), Greens [6], Labor [3], Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [4]
Liberal Democrats J 1 Liberal [4], National [2], Labor [4], Palmer United Party [3], Greens [6]
Australian Voice K 1 Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [4], Labor [4], Greens [6]
Building Australia Party L 1 Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [4], Labor [4], Greens [6]
Mutual Party M 1 Palmer United Party [3], Liberal [4], National [2], Labor [4], Greens [6]
Family First N 1 Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [4], Labor [2], Greens [6], Labor [2]
#Sustainable Population Party O 1 National [2], Greens [6], Labor [4], Liberal [4], Palmer United Party [3]
#Sustainable Population Party O 2 National [2], Labor [4], Greens [6], Liberal [4], Palmer United Party [3]
#Sustainable Population Party O 3 National [2], Liberal [4], Greens [6], Labor [4], Palmer United Party [3]
Palmer United Party P 1 Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [4], Labor [4], Greens [6]
Australian Sports Party Q 1 Palmer United Party [3], Liberal [4], Greens [6], Labor [4], National [2]
Liberal R 1 Liberal [4], National [2], Palmer United Party [3], Labor [4], Greens [6]
Shooters and Fishers S 1 Palmer United Party [3], Liberal [4], National [2], Labor [4], Greens [6]
Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) T 1 Labor [4], Palmer United Party [3], Greens [6], National [2], Liberal [4]
Republican Party of Australia U 1 Liberal [4], National [2], Greens [6], Labor [4], Palmer United Party [3]
Smokers Rights V 1 Liberal [4], National [2], Labor [4], Palmer United Party [3], Greens [6]
Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party W 1 Liberal [4], National [2], Palmer United Party [3], Labor [4], Greens [6]
Australian Christians X 1 Liberal [3], Labor (BULLOCK), Liberal (REYNOLDS), National [2], Palmer United Party [3], Labor [3], Greens [6]
Secular Party of Australia Y 1 Greens [6], Labor [4], National [2], Liberal [4], Palmer United Party [3]
Rise Up Australia Party Z 1 Liberal [4], National [2], Palmer United Party [3], Labor [3], Greens [6], Labor (PRATT)
Greens AA 1 Greens [6], Labor [4], Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [4]
Democratic Labour Party AB 1 National [2], Liberal [4], Palmer United Party [3], Labor [3], Greens [6], Labor (PRATT)
Katter’s Australian Party AC 1 Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Labor [4], Liberal [4], Greens [6]
Katter’s Australian Party AC 2 Palmer United Party [3], National [2], Liberal [4], Labor [4], Greens [6]
Animal Justice Party AD 1 Greens [2], Labor [2], Greens [2], Labor [2], Greens [2], Palmer United Party [3], Liberal [4], National [2]
Animal Justice Party AD 2 Labor [2], Greens [2], Labor [2], Greens [4], Palmer United Party [3], Liberal [4], National [2]
Sex Party AE 1 Labor [4], Greens [6], Palmer United Party [3], Liberal [4], National [2]
Socialist Alliance AF 1 Greens [6], Labor [4], National [2], Liberal [4], Palmer United Party [3]
Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens) AG 1 Liberal [4], National [2], Labor [4], Palmer United Party [3], Greens [6]
  1. Of course, another microparty could slip through once again, as the Sports Party, Motoring Enthusiasts, Democratic Labour, Liberal Democrats have done recently, but that scenario requires a rather different sort of analysis. []
  2. I’ve used an R script to do this based on the AEC’s CSV data. I’m happy to share it if anyone is interested. []

WA senate election 2014: GVT rankings

The senate group voting tickets (GVTs) for the 2014 WA Senate election have now been released in CSV form. This allows me to do what I did last time.

First, here are the median positions of each party among all parties’ preferences:

wa-senate-gvt-pos-2014We’ve lost a few parties since last time:

  • One Nation;
  • the Australian Independents;
  • No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics; and
  • the Socialist Equality Party.

And we’ve gained a few more to make up for it:

  • the Building Australia Party;
  • the Democratic Labour Party;
  • the Freedom and Prosperity Party;
  • the Mutual Party;
  • the Pirate Party;
  • the Republican Party of Australia;
  • the Socialist Alliance (not to be confused with the Socialist Equality Party); and
  • the Voluntary Euthanasia Party.

And there are two groups of independents:

Of the parties contesting both elections, here’s how their GVT positions have shifted since the 2013 federal election (based on WA GVTs only):

wa-senate-gvt-diff-2014Negative numbers here mean that a party has migrated towards the start of preferences, which is a good thing (for them). Positive numbers mean the reverse.

It’s curious that the established parties: Labor, Greens, Liberal and National are all beneficiaries of the shift. The major losers appear to be a collection of microparties, plus Family First. (In particular, I’m pleased to note the precipitous fall of the Rise Up Australia to the end of just about everyone’s preferences, as well as the complete absence of One Nation.) Perhaps the microparties’ exceptional performance in 2013 has made them seem less cute and cuddly than they were before. Nevertheless, many of them still adorn the prime real estate near the top of other parties’ preferences.

Labor and the Greens have also improved their standing with respect to the Liberals (though the Greens are still the least favoured of all the parties with a realistic possibility of claiming seats). Presumably there is now less of a frantic push to get Labor out, since that goal was roundly achieved last time. The fulfilment of Tony Abbott’s particular legislative ambitions perhaps doesn’t attract quite the same level of urgency.

Fun with Senate GVT Data

As I learnt from the Poll Bludger, the Senate group voting tickets were released a few days ago. (The data is available in CSV form from the AEC: NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, SA, Tas, ACT, NT.)

Group voting tickets (if you don’t know) are the way most voters choose to vote on the senate ballot paper. They are the above-the-line option, where you choose one party only, and (perhaps unbeknownst to many) cede your choice of 2nd, 3rd, etc. preferences to that party. A GVT is a list of preferences for senate candidates, decided in advance by each party. You can either select a GVT (whose details are not shown to you on the ballot paper, except for the first preference), or number all the candidates.

I thought it would be interesting to see how the pantheon of parties ranks itself. Which parties are closer to the front of the other parties’ preferences? Which parties are despised by all? Where do the major and high-profile minor parties come?

Here they all are. I’ve included every political party and independent contesting senate seats in every state and territory. The bars on the graph1 represent the median position of a party among all parties’ preferences. Smaller bars are preferable, indicating that a party is closer to the front of overall parties’ preferences. I stole the colour coding from the ABC.

(Note: there’s nothing predictive about this graph. It’s just a representation of what the different parties think of each other.)

GvtPositions

Parties contesting senate seats differ state-to-state. Independents and many minor parties run in one state only. Other parties have subtly different registered names in different states. I’ve tried to remove these inconsistencies in the graph. However, the Liberals and Nationals further confuse things by being the same party in Queensland but not anywhere else.

Anyway, here are some observations:

  • Australian First Nations occupies the most favourable position by a wide margin, though they are an NT-only party.
  • The Australian Sports Party is next, perhaps in keeping with our vaunted national identity, and/or perhaps because it’s a feel-good concept that compares starkly with the entrenched ideology of other parties.
  • Most established, high-profile parties lie at the bottom of the list, towards the end of overall parties’ preferences. The more we see of our political parties, the more faults we find. Moreover, the established, high-profile parties are probably the ones considered the largest barrier to the chances of all other parties.
  • The Greens are fourth-last, and are perhaps in the unenviable position of being seen as an “establishment” party even while struggling to maintain a presence in the House of Representatives.
  • Family First, meanwhile, seems to have attracted disproportionate magnanimity. Did Steve Fielding really capture our hearts after all?
  • The wisdom of our political tacticians has placed Bob Katter slightly ahead of Clive Palmer2. It will be interesting to see if either makes a dent in the status quo.

It’s curious that the major parties should be so far down the list, considering the undisguised craziness of others like One Nation, Rise Up Australia, the DLP, etc. Is that really the path we want to go down? Given the choice between (a) a senator from your least favourite major party, and (b) a senator from Rise Up Australia, who do you think would do the least damage?

I had also intended to use the GVT data to construct a network of parties, showing allies and enemies (where an alliance is implied by one preferencing the other before all major parties). The result is currently too cluttered to be readable, though.

  1. Actually, a bar graph doesn’t quite feel quite right, because the data represent positions rather than quantities, but it was the easiest choice. []
  2. The ABC has decided that these two are now worthy of colour coding. Palmer takes yellow from the Democrats, and Katter takes brown from One Nation. If Katter and Palmer fail, who will be next? []