A Dual Electoral System Of Australia Essay

1310 Words Apr 28th, 2015 6 Pages
In Australia, there is currently a dual electoral system. In the House of Representatives (lower house), there are 150 single-member seats with preferential voting (Find source). However in the Senate (upper house), there is a single-transferable proportional vote (STV) for each multi-member state (Find source). The proportional representation electoral system is believed to, according to Duverger’s Law, lead to a multi-party system (Find source). Despite this, the Australian House of Represenatives and the Senate is still dominated by two parties- Australian Labor Party and the Coalition. However, proportional representation still benefits minor parties and independents more so than in the single-member seats of the lower house (Sharman 1999; Ghazarian 2012). Minor parties and independents currently hold 18 seats (23.7 percent) in Senate, a record high for the crossbench (Parliament of Australia 2015). This compares to non-major party candidates only occupying five seats (3.3 percent) in the lower house (Parliament of Australia 2015). This disparity can be attributed to the use of different electoral systems.

Lower electoral thresholds, particularly after the increase in size of the Senate in the 1983 electoral reforms, make the Senate a more viable option for most minor parties. Stone (1998) explains that minor parties are typically very likely to win a seat with only five percent of first preference votes. Similarly, the preferential system of both houses allows…

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