New South Wales (Australia) 2011

A general election was held in New South Wales, Australia on March 26, 2011. If you’re a left-winger of any shade or a supporter of the Australian Labor Party, you are not recommended to read this post as it may harm your emotional health.

NSW Labor has been in power since 1995, and the state has seen four Labor Premiers since then. The incumbent Premier is Kristina Keneally, in office since 2009. Being in power since 1995 brings the usual slew of unpopularity for a government, with a share of scandal, unpopular decisions and a general mood for change. This is especially true in NSW, where the Labor Party is known for its intense factionalism and a whole lot of backroom dealings and shady faction bosses. The Labor Right is the dominant faction of the NSW ALP, and seemingly Kristina Keneally, albeit personally competent and talented, was in power as their puppet. Her other claim to fame is that her initials are KKK.

In this context, the opposition Coalition led by Barry O’Farrell didn’t need to do much to sweep into office. Polls have showed the Coalition ahead on 2PP since 2008 and Labor has been under 40% of the 2PP since early 2010 and going down as low as 23% of primary votes. Results are still provisional, but given tomorrow’s interesting elections I didn’t feel like waiting a month.

Liberals 38.9% (+11.9%) winning 51 seats (+29)
Labor 25.5% (-13.5%) winning 22 seats (-30)
Nationals 12.3% (+2.2%) winning 17 seats (+4)
Independents 13.1% (-2%) winning 3 seats (-6)
Greens 10.3% (+1.4%) winning 0 seats (nc)

The Coalition has roughly 68 seats. Here are shaded maps of Sydney, the Central Coast, Illawarra and rural NSW.

Labor’s defeat is about on par with what was predicted and there little to no underpolling for Labor which can be expected from unpopular governing parties. Labor held on to its safest seats in South Sydney (and did spectacularly badly in North Sydney, often finishing third behind the Greenies while the Libs won huge 2PP majorities) and a few other assorted safe seats in the Central Coast and Illawarra region. Still, some strongholds which should never have fallen such as Smithfield ended up falling. The Greens underperformed – again – and ended up winning no seats and polling only slightly better than last time.

This historic landslide defeat of the NSW ALP means that they really have work to do and must rebuild if not regenerate the party. However, O’Farrell must also understand that a lot of this huge victory for him comes from protest anti-government voting and perhaps not a vote for his party’s platform, and as such he must deliver. Though he’s undoubtedly in for a long honeymoon as a factionalized backroom deals party such as the ALP tries to regenerate itself – which is something they should have done ages ago.

In the upper house, the Legislative Council, it seems like the Coalition will get 19 seats (+4), Labor 14 (-5), the Greens 5 (+1), the CDP 2 (+1) and the Shooters and Fishers 2 (nc). Family First has lost its seat in the LC.

Canada: An election will be held in Canada on May 2 after the Harper government fell on an opposition motion of no confidence finding it in contempt of Parliament, unprecedented in Canadian history. As a sort of preview post, I intend to answer various questions regarding Canadian politics, political history, parties, electoral geography and current political events. As such, if you have any questions concerning these topics, please post them as comments on this blog, email them to me or tweet them @welections.

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Posted on March 26, 2011, in Australia, New South Wales, Regional and local elections. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Canada question: It always strikes me that there is a fairly clear territorial cleavage in Canadian politics (East/West/Quebec) but what other important divisions are there? Clearly the NDP has traditionally been the party of blue-collar workers, and is now moving into the culturally liberal intelligentsia, but what is the class orientation of other parties? Is there a notable difference in religious adherence, or in ethnic adherence (aside from Quebecois)?

    Also, what kind of factions exist within the parties, and are these divided down territorial lines as most other politics is?

    How come some leaders aren’t MPs before they become leader? In the UK it would be considered shocking if a major party selected someone from outside the Commons as its leader. I mean Layton was just a mayor wasn’t he? Albeit, of Toronto.

    If the Liberals and the NDP had a majority of seats do you think they would form a majority, and if not, why not?

    And lastly, but not least, who will you be voting for? ;)

  2. I believe I understand Canadian politics very well. The one thing I still don’t understand is the social cleavage between the Liberal Party and the NDP. I “get” who votes Conservative – all the Anglosphere countries have a party that takes a low-tax, vaguely-moralistic line – but I don’t “get” who votes for the other parties.

  3. @C Terry:

    I am Canadian, so I will respond.

    Class orientation is something very difficult to pin down in Canada, as you have a tendency to vote from where you live more than for your social standing. In an extreme case, the Bloc Québécois is having very rich voters and very poor voters. It wins polling divisions which people are living in mansions, suburbs or public housing.

    The NDP have some union-based voting in some industrial cities, but again, they have a few urban seats which are very affluent are voting NDP.

    There are a few instances where major party leaders are not elected at first in Canada (such as Jack Layton) before a general election, but generally a new party leader will have a MP resigns for him in a safe seat as this was the case for Stephen Harper in 2002, Jean Chrétien (he was parachuted in a safe New Brunswick riding in the early 1990’s) or Brian Mulroney (in a Nova Scotia riding).

    And again, historically Catholics and francophones were voting generally Liberal during almost 75 years, but this is not the case anymore, especially since a few years ago. Even the newer immigrant vote which was traditionally very Liberal, is becoming more and more fragmented (however the Bloc Québécois is somewhat having some trouble among immigrants in Quebec like the PQ).

    @Edward:

    Generally in this day and age, newer immigrants are the Liberal Party main clientele with people living in major cities such as Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. With all this, a few Liberal MP are winning because of their strong personal vote. The NDP was traditionally strong in some areas for the provincial NDP was strong (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, BC) as somewhat as a western-type protest vote and some industrial cities (Hamilton, Windsor, Oshawa, Sudbury) and more working-class areas in some cities such as Vancouver or Winnipeg. But right now, I would mainly consider the NDP’s vote more and more of a urban left-wing vote. Generally, the NDP could be considered somewhat populist as compared to other parties, but all parties have a populist side.

    Based on federal-provincial issues, the Conservative and the Bloc Québécois are generally open to more decentralization, and the Liberals and the NDP are more centralist parties. One must remember however that education and day-to-day health care are provincial matters.

    But remember, every party in Canadian politics is a coalition, for example, you have social conservatives in the Liberals or the NDP, just like you have some classical liberals in the Conservatives (like Scott Reid or Maxime Bernier). As per, if you take the gun issue, there are some NDP MP’s which are not very keen on the gun registry.

  4. I know the Wildrose Alliance has taken seats in the Albertan general assembly, will they contest this election and if so what are their prospects?

  5. @Danny:

    No, they are only a provincial party for now.

    Generally, Wildrose Alliance are Conservatives federally.

  6. Thanks, I’ll answer the questions myself soon-ish.

  7. For the party wings, this is a small overview:

    The Conservatives generally are divided between the former Reform/Alliance wing (generally based in Western Canada) and the former PC wing (strong in the Atlantic Provinces). Add some classical liberals/libertarians, fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, Christian Democrats and some moderate Quebec nationalists.

    The Liberal Party wings are very difficult to pin down as this is a catch-all big tent party composed of Centrists, Canadian Nationalists, some Greens and Québec federalists especially from Montreal. But again, you have everything in this party from some rural populists, French-Canadians outside of Québec, some social conservatives and some people in the finance industry in big cities. 25 years ago and earlier, however, the Liberal Party was mainly based on Eastern/Central Canada with a very very strong and massive Quebec caucus.

    The NDP is composed of a organized more ”populist” Labour wing and a more social-democrat wing based on cities. However, some NPD governments in provinces are somewhat of a centrist type.

    The Bloc Québécois is now much more left-wing than 15 years ago. Under Duceppe’s leadership the party is somewhat similar to the NDP in some policies with a strong base in Québec’s trade unions. However, with a somewhat rigid leadership mainly based on Duceppe persona, the party is becoming more Montreal oriented. Under Lucien Bouchard and Michel Gauthier, the party was more of a rainbow nationalist coalition.

    The Green Party in Canada is somewhat similar platform-wise to the Liberal Party. Even with this, it’s not an eco-socialist party strictly speaking. Their main clientele is generally the young people.

  8. And again, one must remember that not all provincial parties are in good relations with the Federal Party.

    For example, the Newfoundland and Labrador PC under Danny Williams was very hostile to the federal PC. However, right now, the situation is looking better for the two parties.

    The Quebec Liberal Party has not very much in common with the federal wing as they are separate. Some former QLP politicians are now federally with the Conservatives (Lawrence Cannon) or the NDP (Thomas Mulcair). In the late 80’s for example, the QLP under Robert Bourassa had strong links with the federal Progressive Conservative Party.

    However, the PQ and the Bloc are almost as one party in practice.

    Both in BC and Saskatchewan, the provincial NDP could be open also open to the federal Liberal Party, some MP are made the switch between both parties.

    The British Columbia Liberals have nothing to do the Federal Liberal Party, in fact some BC Liberals supporters are generally Conservatives federally, with some Federal Liberals in bigger cities such as Vancouver.

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