You may have heard me say that it’s impossible for your progressive vote to end up helping the conservatives. Turns out I was wrong. There is a scenario in which your voting ALP or Green could inadvertently end up helping the Liberals.
I know you’ll be expecting this to be long and complicated, but it’s actually quite easy to explain.
How it “could” happen
In amongst both the Green and ALP first preference votes, are some people who preference the Liberals ahead of the alternative progressive party. ALP voters who put the Liberals above the Greens; Greens voters who put the Liberals above the ALP.
As long as that party is not eliminated, those Coalition votes stay locked in for the “left” side of politics (for the sake of this discussion, I’m going to pretend that the ALP counts as “left”).
But, when that party is eliminated, that subset of their votes would flow straight back to the Coalition and, in a very unlikely set of circumstances, could conceivably see the conservative candidate elected over the remaining “left” one.
How to avoid it happening
So – if you want to keep the Coalition out, and are worried about this tiny possibility of inadvertently helping them, then how should you vote? Well, you should vote to keep in for as long as possible the “left” party with the higher proportion of conservative votes hidden within it.
As it happens, the vast majority of ALP voters simply follow the ALP ticket, which – like the Greens one – usually puts the Coalition down the bottom. In contrast, Greens voters are much more independent-minded and less likely to follow such cards or tickets and – even according to the recent ALP campaign against them – that includes some 20% of so who have come from the Coalition wanting change. I’m not sure what those probably small l liberal Coalition voters expect from the Greens – other than opposition to the unworkable internet filter, government out of people’s bedrooms and a realistic approach to climate change – but the fact is, there are probably more, in proportion, Coalition votes locked up in the Greens’ vote than the ALP’s.
Which means that if you vote ALP instead of Greens, and the Greens are eliminated, and some of those votes flow back to the Coalition, you could find that your ALP vote in fact inadvertently helps elect a Liberal. That’s more likely than the “a vote for the Greens helps the Liberals scenario”, in which your Green vote gets the ALP eliminated first and frees the proportionally fewer* ALP/Coalition votes to go to the Liberals.
A silly thing to worry about
Of course, in reality the likelihood of the small number of Coalition preferences hidden in Greens and ALP votes actually electing a Liberal is tiny – particularly given that far more of those votes will flow straight to the other “left” party. To allow it to influence your vote is taking tactical voting to a ludicrous and unnecessary extreme, particularly when your first preference has a much, much bigger influence on what happens than where its preferences go. (If you vote ALP, you vote for nothing to change; if you vote Green, you pull the ALP and the parliament back to the left. Also, voting Green gives them the funding for your vote instead of the thoroughly undeserving ALP, helping them grow and become an even better alternative.)
But if this issue bothers you – the answer is clear anyway. The best way of defeating the Liberals is, again, to vote Green and preference the ALP.
*You might say aha, but the ALP votes are more than the Greens, so the raw number of Coalition preferences is higher. But the only scenario in which this matters is where the number of ALP and Greens votes are similar, so the proportion equates to more of those locked-away votes.