Over here in democratic Australia we have the great fortune to choose from more than one or two political parties. Virtually any bloke and his dog can and does enter a candidate in the polls. Happily, most Australians are smart enough not to vote for any bloke and his dog, so there’s a lot of parties who end up getting as near as zero votes as a political could care to and still call themselves a political party with a modicum of self-respect. A few examples: ‘Pauline’, the party run solely on the personality of an inbred red-neck quincelander. Her policies: eject the gooks, kill the boongs, burn the poofs and more lamingtons for everybody. There’s also the Citizens’ Electoral Council, who are hamstrung every election by the fact that they are a front-organisation for Lyndon LaRouche but are so incredibly embarrassed by this fact that they cannot bring themselves to acknowledge their connection, and hence won’t publish their policies.
Only selfish wankers vote for the Libs. In fact, in order to vote for the Libs, you have to be a proudly and pompously selfish wanker, otherwise you can vote for the ALP. The Libs have been in government for 11 years, during which time they’ve fiddled about, slapped each others’ backs, snorted champagne froth out of their noses while giggling, and counted their money and then counted it again. Every now and then they are rather vexingly required to obtain a mandate to govern from the Australian population: this usually sees them cooking up the most unlikely prophecies of doom, scurrilously spreading these prophecies throughout their extensive media networks, then sitting back and watching the voters from aspirational middle-Australia come scurrying into the polling booth while casting fearful glances left and right, feverishly scratching a ‘1’ into the Libs box, begging for interest rates and the blacks to be kept down all the while. It’s easy to dislike the Libs, but it’s much easier to dislike the idiots who willingly swallow their dubious tales of impending doom.
Prospect: look set to lose in a landslide. After 11 years of pathetic compliance, the voting population seem to have woken up and decided they’re not happy about being lied to, that really they didn’t know they were being lied to the whole time (honest!), and that they’re going to punish somebody for it.
Only red-necks and hypocrites vote for the Nats. The Libs and the Nats invariably join together to form a coalition of government. While the Libs appeal to the merchant bankers (for money) and the aspirational urban middle class (for votes), the Nats appeal to wealthy livestock holders (for money) and rural farmers (for votes). The ostensible strangeness of this coalition is that while the Libs are supposed to endorse free trade, the Nats are totally consumed with maintaining their agrarian socialist stranglehold on Australia’s farming industry. But in fact the coalition does makes sense: the Libs are trying to help wealthy city folk become wealthier, the Nats are trying to help wealthy country folk become wealthier. Traditional Nats voters are beginning to wake up to the fact that it is not in their own best interest to try to run farms in a nation perpetually beset by crippling drought and simultaneously obtain parliamentary representation from a party which denies the existence anthropomorphic climate change. Expect to see an about-face on climate change from the Nats soon, along with a startling remedy for their constituents (‘You all need to be given more money’).
Prospect: same as it ever was – they’ll get sweet fuck all of the votes overall, but they’ll get enough votes in key areas to secure seats, and exercise influence well beyond their numerical representation.
Only panic-merchants and weirdos vote for the ALP. These are the guys whom everybody with a skerrick of conscience wants to see in government, but they are notoriously bad at getting their act together, and inevitably calculate the reason for their electoral losses as ‘we’re not enough like the Libs’ rather than ‘we didn’t get our act together’. So the ALP are in a perpetual slide to the right, but nobody is sure whether they are following votes or whether they are dragging voters with them. Everybody hopes that once the ALP get in, they’ll move back to their progressive, left-wing philosophical roots; everybody expects that they will become ‘conservatism with a human face’ – which is to say, they’ll do everything the current government does, but they’ll acknowledge climate change and sign Kyoto, and they’ll stop locking people up in detention centres in the desert because they have the temerity to be notWhite and notChristian. It is in fact logically impossible to be a decent person and vote for the ALP on their current policies, but most ALP-voters are well-practised in the art of ethical contortion.
Prospect: look set to shit their way to victory in a landslide – astonishingly, this will be thanks to the fact that most voters hate the Libs industrial relations policy, even though the ALP’s industrial relations policy is virtually the same.
Only sensible people and champions vote for the Greens. That’s why the Greens poll about 9% - everyone else in the country is insane or a loser. Garner lots of votes from left-leaning inner-urban voters who are big on climate change, human rights, free education, effective public transport, and consistently good cafe latte. Also garner a few votes from hardcore, deep green environmentalists but far more from whackos and eccentrics who have their own deeply-held fascination with something obscure which they believe the Greens may champion (and probably will, so long as they get the vote). Rumoured to be ‘communists’, who will give away free drugs and force everyone to ride bicycles and eat vegetables if they win.
Prospect: did look to maintain their perpetual 9% and maybe scrape in a senator or two, but whispers are that they may reap the unionised benefit of being the only party to present an industrial relations policy which looks to defend the rights of the employee rather than line the pocket of the employer.
Only twisted sickos vote for Family First. This is the religious fundamentalist party. Nobody is quite sure what their policies are, least of all them. They don’t like poofs and lesos, that’s for sure – last election one of their candidates endorsed a policy of burning lesbians at the stake. And they’re not into single-parent families, or even separated families- you gotta go nuclear all the way, or you’re just ain’t the real deal. Women in their place and men wear the pants. FF voters must be Christians, by which I mean evangelists. They’re really not into non-Christians, but they are prepared to countenance the existence of black people, so long as they’re evangelists and live in the south. Oh yeah, they’re big time into money. The more the better – well, the more the holier. FF voters are largely derived from those evangelist mega-Churches, where you get told that ‘to get rich is divine’. The ‘family’ in Family First is a reference to the overlords who run this show from behind the scenes. Now those guys are rich.
Prospect: these guys can barely poll 1%, so they don’t even qualify as a real political party. But here’s the rub – they’ve got members in marginal seats, so they can negotiate with the big boys: we’ll give you OUR lower house preferences, if you give us YOUR upper house preferences. And thus Family First will sew up at least one senator, if not three or four, and retard the political progression of this nation for years to come, but at least we’ll have good singers.