Liberals take office in South Australia with a minority vote


Liberals take office in South Australia with a minority vote

Mike Head

19 March 2018

In another indication of widespread political alienation and volatility, the Liberal Party will form a fragile government in South Australia after winning only 37.4 percent of the vote in last Saturday’s state election.

Because of the long built-up hostility to the state’s 16-year-old Labor government, the Liberals scraped into government, possibly with a one-seat majority, despite their vote actually falling by 7.4 percentage points.

This is another milestone in the collapse of support for, let alone trust in, governments. The Liberals’ “victory” vote was only marginally higher than the 35.8 percent that Labor obtained in the last South Australian state election in 2014. Labor then clung to office for four more years with the support of right-wing independents.

These anti-democratic results are part of a wider pattern in recent Australian elections—state and federal. They point to the breakdown of the two-party political set-up, based on the Liberals and Labor, through which the capitalist class has ruled since World War II.

Labor’s vote fell further, dropping nearly 2 points to 33.9 percent, tracking the historic lows recorded for Labor in federal and state elections since Labor last held office federally from 2010 to 2013 in a minority government propped up by the Greens.

Tracing Labor’s declining vote in working-class areas is difficult because of a substantial redrawing of electoral boundaries. But in the electorate of Elizabeth, covering some of Adelaide’s most socially-devastated northern suburbs, Labor barely held on with a vote of 52 percent.

Mass unemployment has worsened in that electorate, officially hitting 31 percent, since General Motors last year shut…

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