The Intriguing Results Of Australia's 2013 Senate Elections


Following the Liberal/National Coalitions' landslide victory over Labor in the 2013 Australian Federal Elections, the Australian Senate Elections results have also produced groundbreaking results. As a result of Australia's complex proportional representation system, eight of the 76 seats in the senate have been won by minor and independent parties, and 10 seats have been won by the Green Party. Tony Abbott's Coalition fell short of a majority, with 33 seats, and Labor won 25 seats. Results are still provisional, but it is unlikely that the actual results will deviate much from these predictions.

These results are intriguing. Of the eight independent and minor parties on track to win seats in the senate, many of them are virtually unknown, and some of them have no track record and no known policies. It is case, for example, of gridiron-playing engineer Wayne Dropulich, who is likely to win elections as a senator for Western Australia. Dropulich's Australian Sports Party only policy is to advocate for sports, and despite the fact that they only won 0.22% of the votes, Australia's preferential voting system puts him on track to win a seat ahead of the second Labor Candidate, who won 12.33% of the vote.

Similarly, in Victoria, Ricky Muir, of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, is set to unseat Liberal senator Helen Kroger, despite the fact that Ricky won 0.53% of the vote to Helen's 10.52%. Finally, a possible confusion over party name may have been key for liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, who won a seat in New South Wales with an impressive 8.89% of the vote, despite the fact that his party is relatively unknown. The Senator himself admits that his party probably gained votes in error, with voters thinking they were voting for the Liberals. 

Another interesting occurrence of this year's Australian elections that is worth nothing was the failure of Julian Assange's bid to win a seat in the Senate. Notably, Assange's Wikileaks party secured just 0.62% of the nationwide votes, behind parties such as the Help End Marijuana Prohibition Party and the Australian Sex Party. This result is representative of the fact that, although Assange may be touted in the realm of information and internet transparency, his party carries seems to carry absolutely no weight in Australian domestic politics.

In the end, the outcome of the Senate elections this year may lead to commotion in the Australian Senate. Failing to win the required 39 seats for a majority, Tony Abbott's Coalition will likely need the support of these minor and independent parties to be able to enact some of his more controversial policies. This reality will soon be tested as Abbott seeks to scrap carbon pricing and a mining tax. It is unlikely that Labor will support him in this endeavor, given that it was Labor that enacted these laws in the first place, and it is even more unlikely that the Greens will support him, for obvious reasons. Abbott thus relies on these eight independent and minority parties.

The results of Australia's Senate Elections may therefore challenge the capability of the Liberal/National Coalition to run an effective government. Seemingly aware of this, Tony Abbott issued a statement shortly after the federal elections, addressed to all members of Parliament, including minor party PMs, highlighting that the "government of our nation has a mandate and the Parliament should work with the government of the day to implement its mandate."

Indeed, if Abbott fails to rein in the Australian Senate, the credibility of his vows for "change" may be seriously threatened, and Australia may be in for years of exacerbated political maneuvering and slow decision-making.