Sunday, February 04, 2007

Upcoming NSW Elections

For those of my readers interested in Australian political matters, the NSW elections will be held in March. Here I see that Antony Green's usual valuable election guide is up on the ABC web site.

By all measures, the current NSW Government should be in political trouble because of resignations, scandals and policy problems. However, the swing required for defeat is so large that there is a common view that the Government will be returned.

For what it's worth, my gut judgement at this point is that the most likely outcome is a hung lower house with independents holding the balance of power.

With the most recent resignation of the member for Newcastle, Bryce Gaudrey, from the ALP, the current makeup of the NSW Parliament is labor 52, Liberal 18, National 12 and Independent 10.

Antony Green's analysis of the notional impact of the latest electoral redistribution provided as part of the Guide is presently down so I cannot look properly at this. However, the continued rise of high profile independents remains a threat to all the existing parties.

According to Antony's analysis, the government can lose up to eight seats and still govern with a majority. The Coalition requires a uniform swing of 8.7% to win nine seats and deprive Labor of its majority. However, the independents have to be factored in.

Assuming the seven elected Independents are re-elected, then the Coalition needs to win 16 seats from Labor to achieve majority government in its own right. That translates into a massive uniform swing of 12.3%, a swing figure without precedent in the last eight decades.

Antony suggest that somewhere in between these figures of 8.7% and 12.3% lies the territory of a hung parliament. Depending on whether the Coalition wins any seats from Independents, or whether Labor loses seats to Independents and Greens, the question becomes whether Labor or the Coalition will end up with more seats, and who the Independents would back for government.

Now link all this back to the numbers.

On a 9% uniform swing - swings are never uniform - the ALP would lose six seats: Tweed, Monaro, Wollondilly, Penrith, Port Stephens and Kiama. The ALP is also vulnerable in the Lower Hunter in Newcastle, Swansea and Maitland where high profile Independents including Bryce Gaudrey are running. If Labor loses two of these three, and this does seem possible at this point, then Labor has lost its majority. On the other side of the ledger, the Coalition is also vulnerable to Independents in some seats.

So waving my pen in the air and taking the back of a handy envelope, my best guess at the moment is that Labor will lose 6-7 seats to the coalition, two to independents, with the Coalition losing perhaps one seat to independents. A hung parliament.

No comments: