On Elections

How people elect parliaments

AU-HR-1998

Election of the Australian House of Representatives, 1998

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Data

OnElections election data AU-HR-1998 v1.xls

Voting system

Single-member preferential voting

Size

The election was for 150 seats.

The composition of the assembly was subdivided into 8 electoral regions based on Australian states and territories. These were allocated numbers of seats in proportion to their total population of inhabitants. The allocation was most recently reviewed in 1997. The allocation is broadly proportional other except in regard to:

  • Tasmania – which was allocated the constitutional minimum of 5 divisions despite a proportional share being around 3.5 divisions
  • the two territories, each of which is allocated a minimum of two divisions:
    • the Northern Territory had two divisions despite having a proportional share being around 1.3 divisions
    • the ACT – also allocated two divisions –  was proportionally entitled to just under 2.5 divisions, and as a result has the two largest-population electoral divisions in the nation

Contesting parties

The leading parties contesting this election included the following:

  • The LNP Coalition (consisting of the Liberal Party (in all states other than Queensland), the National Party (in NSW, Victoria, SA and WA), the Liberal National Party of Queensland, and the Country Liberal Party of the NT) (previous election 00% of the vote and 00 seats; this election 00% of the vote and 00 seats)
  • The Labor Party (ALP) (previous election 00% of the vote and 00 seats; this election 00% of the vote and 00 seats)
  • The Greens (previous election 00% of the vote and 1 seat; this election 00% of the vote and 1 seat)
  • One Nation (previous election 00% of the vote and 0 seats; this election 00% of the vote and 0 seats)

The Australian system of party registration is broadly open to new entrants, and over 60 parties were registered for national elections. In recent years the share of votes won by parties other than the two major parties (the Coalition and the ALP) has been rising noticeably.

Participation

A total of 000.0 million persons were estimated to make up the eligible electorate. 000.0 million persons were registered to vote. 000.0 million voters actually cast a valid vote. On these results the overall turnout of voters casting a valid vote was 00.0% of eligible voters and 00.0% of registered voters.

Directness

The electoral system allowed voters to vote directly for individual candidates.

Choice

The electoral system was structured around a system of single-member electoral divisions, such that only candidates who were registered as resident in the same defined local electoral division as the voter were available to be selected as representatives. Moreover for each political party only one candidate was nominated, greatly limiting voter choice.

The use of preferential (or ‘ranked-choice’) voting increased (by comparison to plurality voting) the choice available to voters by allowing the expression of a sequence of alternative candidates. Preferential voting greatly reduced (but did not entirely eliminate) the pressure for voters to express an insincere preference, or to vote primarily against a specifically opposed leading candidate.

Equality

As a consequence of constraining the selection of representatives to a single elected member per electoral division, the electoral system introduced a large degree of variety in the effective influence of each vote.

Variation in the number of persons registered to vote in each of the 00 electoral divisions was 9.6% (as a co-efficient of variation between the division values). This is relatively high/low compared to similar international systems.

In addition, demographic concentrations of party electoral support across the electoral divisions made many contests politically ‘safe’, with only a relatively small number of divisions being highly contestable, greatly diversifying the variation in the vote margins of victory achieved by the elected MPs. For this election that outcome was 64.2% (as a co-efficient of variation between the division values), which is a result in the mid-range of similar electoral systems.

The system for determining electoral division boundaries was governed by a constitution rule requiring the proportional allocation of seats among the jurisdictions, requiring a review of that allocation after every general election (ie: generally every three years), and requiring that election divisions must not cross state boundaries. Current legislation maintains an independent process for determining boundaries. Boundaries within each state and territory must be reviewed no less often than every seven years and were last revised in the year 2014.

Overall result

After this election an estimated 50.9% of the registered electorate had at least some representation in the House by one or more MPs of a party they supported. The actual proportion of the electorate who specifically voted for the sitting MPs was however a lower figure of 00.0%.

As noted above the members of the chamber were directly elected, and the degree of equality of influence of voters in their election was low.

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