Which candidate deserves to be put last?

Having a longstanding party allegiance simplifies elections greatly, but still leaves the issue of where to direct preferences.

In my House of Representatives seat of Melbourne, my second preference will go to the sitting member, Lindsay Tanner. I quite like him, and he is the only candidate promising to cut government spending, albeit by not nearly as much as I would like. I think I will give the hapless Democrat my third preference out of sympathy for the only party with MPs in more trouble than my own. I’ll probably put the Greens fourth, going above Family First for their stance on gay marriage. Then Family First, who haven’t been nearly as bad as people thought they would be, but there is far too much family stuff coming from the major parties, so we certainly don’t need a whole party based on pushing the familist cause.

The most difficult choice is for the last three spots. There is the Socialist Party’s Kylie McGregor, the Socialist Equality Party‘s Will Marshall, and the looney LaRouchite Citizen’s Electoral Council’s Andrew Reed. They all deserve to be put last. I’ll see how their party workers behave on the booths.

In the Senate, I am going to put my friend Scott Ryan first, though as he is third on the Liberal ticket I don’t like his chances of becoming Senator Ryan this time around. Then I will put the rest of the Liberals, before moving on to the Liberty and Democracy Party. While I will put the really crazy parties in the last few spots, I will find a special low place to put What Women Want, for self-interest that would make the National Party’s rent-seekers blush.

Of the micro-parties, I will be watching the Liberty and Democracy Party most closely. Though I have ideological affinity with them, as always with small parties it is an open question as to whether they do their cause more harm than good. Something for a post after the election.

27 thoughts on “Which candidate deserves to be put last?

  1. The CEC has to go last. They’re genuinely crazy – a cult.

    It won’t matter in which order you put the socialist parties – flip a coin.


  2. Leon – I saw Milat on Chaser. Unfortunately, she is the only thing most people will remember about the LDP. But I will also be looking at things like what effect standing in Corangamite (with our mutual friend Sukrit as the candidate) had. Why target a MP who actually has a good record of supporting free trade?

    Davd – Unlike the other two parties, the CEC has actually disrupted a CIS event, so that counts for them going last. On the other hand, the Socialist Equality Party is part of a global Trotskyist movement, and therefore associated with a much darker force in human history than the CEC, which is mostly of harm to its sad and deluded members.


  3. Andrew – I have already voted (on the first day of prepoll voting) as I will be out of Melbourne this weekend. I have to say though that the thing that really annoyed me was having to number 1 to 68 (or whatever the number was) on the Senate ticket. While I resolutely refuse to vote 1 above the line, as I’ve got older I find I have a lot less patience for that whole palaver.

    Clearly if you have a special friend somewhere in the middle of one party’s ticket you don’t have any alternative but to vote the whole lot below the line, but I would be prefectly happy to vote preferential above the line, or alternatively optional preferential below the line. That way you wouldn’t need to vote for the multiple crazies at all.


  4. John – All I did was put your link into the sentence, which you can get to by clicking on ‘this’. I did it because urls throw out the formatting on some people’s browsers.


  5. There is a way of ensuring that none of those minor party candidates get your preference (while still ensuring that the earlier preferences count). But I’m pretty sure it’s a breach of the Electoral Act for me to advocate it.


  6. I seem to recall that the Electoral Act was changed so that the method Langer espoused now results in an informal vote? Can anyone confirm?



  7. OK, I will confirm it (albeit on a cursory examination of the law). Section 240, apparently amended shortly after the Langer affair, says that a ballot-paper must not have any preference repeated. I’m not sure what the ramifications are, but it seems safe to assume that an informal vote results.



  8. LDP is far from perfect but as the only really consistent voice of liberalism I think it serves a very useful function. I am sure if and when the Liberal party adopts something approahcing Thatcherite platform, LDP people will be more than willing to preference them. But at the moment I think the vote for LDP is the only vote for liberal values.

    I vote LDP first and Libs second. I couldn’t care less about the rest. Apart from CEC and ON who should be last.


  9. Andrew, fascinating to watch someone think through their vote. You didn’t mention who you’ll preference in the Senate if Scott Ryan is elected though (of the candidates who have a chance that is)? Not that that vote will be worth much to either Labor or the Greens, but if you are concerned about who you are putting last, then there is a principle at work.

    My own (Melbourne) vote will go to someone who will get less than the 5% needed to pick up electoral funds. Though given the range of choices that might have to be the Democrats (who, if nothing else need the money). Normally I then preference the Greens, in the hope that Labor will then commit their resources and policy agenda to their inner city electorates (with whom I agree on many social issues), rather than the current marginals (with whom I agree on very little). I’ll consider your advice on Lindsay Tanner however.


  10. Andrew N, I should add that I think I am even more moderate in my libertarian views than you are. However I think LDP is pointing in the right direction away from the backwater of the social democratic consensus shared by all the mainstream forces in Aus politics. In my view this can only be a good thing but I will be quite happy to recosider my position if I hear a good argument.


  11. Boris – I don’t think voting for them is harmful. It’s the way candidates present their case to the public that concerns me. Anyway, I will explain in more detail in a post after the election.


  12. Boris – it’s about priority. No political party needs to have a policy on incest and/or polygamy. Not matter how important these issues may be to individual liberty. The electorate are not going to support people whom they think upfront are dope-smoking, gun-toting, sexual degenerates. I’m sure Andrew if say that in a nicer, more measured manner.


  13. Oz has a Larouchie party? Really? How does a cult of personality work when the personality is halfway around the world and not involved in your country’s politics?

    Anyway, on behalf of the U.S. I apologize for a particularly bizarre and noxious political export.


  14. Sinclair I agree. These things has harmed LDP from the start, as did its inexperience. It has been obvious to me all along. But how does it harm the broader liberal agenda?


  15. People then associate classical liberalism with those same dope-smoking, gun-toting, sexual degenerates. Not that there is anything wrong with those activities, if that is what you want to do in your private life. When you run for Parliament you are running for public life – rightly or wrongly the electorate do have certain standards of behaviour that they look for. Promoting the LDP distracts from the good classical liberals and libertarians can do in promoting smaller government, lower taxes, and personal liberty.

    In another sense they are a waste of resources – politics shouldn’t be a game where one aims to participate, it is a game where you must aim to win. Running candidates in the house is a waste of time, unless you run candidates in every seat. Running candidates in the Senate with the view to being a minority balance of power party is a good strategy for some, but then you need to have a sensible preference strategy. That strategy must include the idea of making is easy for voters to vote for you above the line. Like a very large majority of voters I couldn’t be bothered to vote below the line, and I was very unimpressed with the LDP preference allocation. Many libertarian voters are currently Liberal voters, they are not going to go from putting the Liberals first, to last in one hit, if at all. Similarly, for those who are ALP voters they are not going to preference the nutters on the left before the ALP.


  16. Jacob – There are not-very-bright, sad, and lonely people in every country, the basic type the LaRouchites recruit. They are the only political group that has ever actually disrupted a CIS event.


  17. ‘I’ll see how their party workers behave on the booths.’

    i hope they behaved better than the liberal party workers:
    The Lindsay leaflet scandal

    and attacks on a candidate by a rampaging liberal amazon Journo from the Murdoch stables:



    ‘Danielle Ecuyer says The Australian newspaper’s Caroline Overington offered her front page coverage if she gave her preferences to the Liberal Party.

    Ms Ecuyer, a former partner of the Labor candidate, George Newhouse, is running on an anti-pulp mill ticket.

    She has not yet revealed who she will preference but says she was shocked to be lobbied by a senior journalist from The Australian. ‘

    This is called bribery….

    All this and more is why the liberals HAD to go…Howards performance last night was nice but the band of vultures he commanded have no right to be anywhere near the reigns of power.

    T0 be fair, liberal party workers were also attacked by persons unknown:


  18. This may be erroneous — perhaps Andrew knows: I was under the impression that the AEC doesn’t bother to count every below-the-line Senate vote, on grounds of time and complexity. They count a reasonable sample and then do an estimation of preference distribution of the remainder, based on where those below-the-liners put their first preference.
    So spending half an hour criss-crossing the ballot paper to number every square below the line has a statistically large possibility of being a complete waste of time (apart from, say, wanting to register a first preference for someone like Scott Ryan).
    Still, there may be other reasons for doing it: personal satisfaction; and the fact that we only get to spend a few minutes in a ballot booth once every few years, so we might as well make the most of it.


  19. Sinclair Davidson, you said on November 25th, 2007 06:06…

    “People then associate classical liberalism with those same dope-smoking, gun-toting, sexual degenerates.”

    Sinclair, two out of three I can understand and have seen evidence of, but the last one? Please elaborate.

    “Running candidates in the Senate with the view to being a minority balance of power party is a good strategy for some, but then you need to have a sensible preference strategy… and I was very unimpressed with the LDP preference allocation.”

    Sinclair, how can a first time out micro party find time to fully get their act together as you seem to expect, why dump on LDP?

    Discovered the LDP fielded 47 in the lower and 14 condidates in the senate. Bet anything their spending returns to the AEC will show an amazing best value bang per buck per vote compared to say, Turnbull in Wentworth, a million plus to keep the seat! Go work it out, a party has to start in someone’s kitchen.


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