Political power issue: Microparties

  • The existence of microparties and their ability to gain representation in Parliament based on very few votes raises issues of political representation and popular participation
  • Most microparties are one-issue, one cause parties
  • Other microparties come as a result of being disillusioned with major parties

Is Parl really representative if the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts (Ricky Muir) with 0.51% managed to get a seat in the Senate?

  • Especially when the Senate is not controlled by one party, and the Gov’t needs to rely on the crossbenchers (18 in 44th Parl) to pass legislation, microparties can have a very large effect, (some say disproportionate) on gov’t policies

This is caused by the proportional voting system in the Senate, as well as the system of quotas.

Note that ALP, Libs and the Greens are touting possible reforms e.g. optional preferential voting, or needing to have a minimum percentage of votes.

On the other hand,

  • This is not an example of how our system is flawed: the system itself is working just as intended
  • It is a feature of democracy that anyone should be able to enter Parliament (if elected), and so limiting the rights of microparties infringe upon freedom of political communication and democratic principles.

 

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