In the 2002 French presidential election it came down to a run-off contest between the conservative Jacques Chirac and the nationalist firebrand Jean-Marie Le Pen, after the left candidate Lionel Jospin was eliminated. Showing they had not lost their sense of humour, French leftists set up a shower outside a polling booth, to wash themselves after voting for Chirac to keep the lunatic Le Pen out of the Élysée Palace.
Labor voters in the seat of Melbourne may need to do something similar this Saturday. In what may be a first for Australian major party politics (or at least very rare), the only way Labor can guarantee itself victory in this seat is to boost the Liberal vote.
Their problem is that if the Liberals are eliminated before the Greens their preferences will run heavily against Labor. The figures on Antony Green’s website suggest that about 85% of Liberal preferences went to the Greens in 2007.
Yet if the Greens are elmininated first, Labor is headed for the kind of crushing victory over the Liberals it achieved before 2007, because Green preferences overwhelmingly flow to Labor.
As noted in an earlier post, the Liberals were about 600 votes ahead of the Green primary in 2007, but fell behind after distribution of minor party preferences. The donkey vote was helping the Greens in 2007, as it is again this time. I’m not sure how (or whether) the minor parties this time are directing their preferences. The most eye-catching is the Australian Sex Party.
But unless there have been some demographic changes in the seat since 2007, it’s likely that the Liberal base will again not be large enough to get Green preferences distributed to Labor. But a couple of thousand Labor voters voting Liberal with a second preference back to Bowtell (just in case it is not enough) should see off the Green menace.
It would be the ultimate in tactical voting – but a tactic that is very difficult to implement.