A Plague on Both Your Houses: Minor Parties in Australia

Front Cover
Although minor parties have been the 'forgotten players' in Australian politics, they continue to be the source of new ideas, of new approaches; they are the signs of dissatisfaction with 'politics as usual'; they bring to the surface long-hidden concerns; they bring fresh views before the public. Not always serious, sometimes outrageous, usually focusing on 'fringe' issues, they can force the major parties to take notice of issues which otherwise would be ignored.
And, as voters show increasing volatility and proclaim a 'plague on both your houses', these minor players could become more influential.
This book is the first-ever study of these fascinating expressions of political grievance. It analyses their formation, nature, ideology, policies and success or failure. It describes their impact on the electorate, the party system, and the political imagination.

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The Australian constellation
Soldiers Nationalist 126
Tasmania First Party 75
Unemployed Workers Union 54 209
WA Democratic League
Westralian Secessionists 24 75
Women on Government
Workers Party of Australia
Success and failure
Roles and functions
Assessment and future

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Page 13 - ... it is never needed or put to use for any feasible coalition majority. Conversely, a minor party has to be counted, no matter how small, if it finds itself in a position to determine over time at least one of the possible governmental majorities.
Page 7 - He builds slowly, in early chapters defining his units of analysis — including the party as "any political group identified by an official label that presents at elections, and is capable of placing through elections (free or nonfree), candidates for public office.
Page 203 - Further strengthening of top leadership groups, whose actions and omissions are now judged from the viewpoint of their contribution to the efficiency of the entire social system rather than identification with the goals of their particular organization...
Page 13 - We are thus led to formulate an accounting rule number two based on the "power of intimidation" or the "blackmail potential" of the opposition oriented parties. Such a subsidiary accounting rule can be formulated as follows: that a party is "big enough" to qualify for relevance whenever its existence, or appearance, affects the tactics of party competition, and particularly when it alters the direction of the competition...
Page 205 - American elections suggests the existence of a category of elections in which voters are, at least from impressionistic evidence, unusually deeply concerned, in which the extent of electoral involvement is relatively quite high, and in which the decisive results of the voting reveal a sharp alteration of the pre-existing cleavage within the electorate. Moreover, and perhaps this is the truly differentiating characteristic of this sort of election, the realignment made manifest in the voting in such...
Page 23 - s major work on parties devotes only fifteen pages to the rise and fall of minority parties. 6 Most of this literature refers to thirdparty movements at the national electoral level. When one turns to state and local third-party movements, the neglect becomes even more evident. Key...
Page 13 - A party qualifies for relevance whenever its existence, or appearance, affects the tactics of party competition and particularly when it alters the direction of the competition — by determining a switch from centripetal to centrifugal competition either leftward, rightward, or in both directions — of the governing-oriented parties.
Page 219 - ... medium parties corresponds therefore to certain facts but it is unfortunately too vague to be retained in any general classification : it appears to be applicable only within the framework of each individual country. Theory of Minor Parties. The concept 'minor party' deserves special consideration. Opinion is much divided over these tiny groups which never have more than a small number of representatives in parliament and do not seem therefore capable of playing an important part either in the...
Page 17 - To be contrasted with such standing minor parties are transient third-party movements. American party history is marked by turbulences generated by the rapid rise, and equally rapid decline, of minor parties. Though they may move onto the political stage as a prairie fire running ahead of a strong wind, they die out after an election or so and are remembered principally by historians.

About the author (1998)

Dean Jaensch is well-qualified in this field as the author of many books in this area, including Election!, The Liberals, and The Hawke-Keating Hijack. David Scott Mathieson teaches international politics at Flinders University and is the editor-in-chief of the Flinders Journal of History and Politics.

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