New study shows ‘large-scale abandonment’ of Australia’s major parties

A record one in three voters at the federal election in May cast a ballot for minor parties or independents.
It’s the biggest result for smaller players in Canberra in 100 years with experts saying it shows a slow decline in “rusted on” major party voters.

The figures come from the latest Australian Election Study from the Australian National University and Griffith University.

It found Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was the most popular leader since Kevin Rudd in 2007.
Mr Albanese’s predecessor, former coalition prime minister Scott Morrison, was found to be the least popular leader since 1987.

In a warning to the major parties, the study noticed a decline in voter loyalty.

In 1967, about three in four said they always voted for the same party but in 2022 this had dropped to just over one in three.
Study co-author, the ANU’s Professor Ian McAllister, said this represented “large-scale abandonment” of the major parties.

“Voters are now less ‘rusted on’ to the major political parties and becoming more independently minded in their political choices,” Professor McAllister said.

“This trend has been driven by wider societal changes, such as the huge expansion of higher education, the turnover of generations, the rise of social media and shifting issue priorities.”
The so-called teal independents and the Greens have reaped the rewards of this shift.
While 2022 was a big year for the teals, who booted Liberal MPs from the party’s treasured seats, Professor McAllister said the momentum had been building for decades.

The other co-author of the study, Griffith University’s Dr Sarah Cameron, said it wasn’t enough for voters to fall out of love with major parties, they needed to have a viable alternative to shift their vote to.

She said in 2022 voters were dissatisfied with the major parties, in particular the coalition and Mr Morrison.
Meanwhile, the teals ran disciplined campaigns on issues the incumbent government was weak on, including climate change and gender equality.
“The medium-term success of the teals will depend on how much they can create a distinct political identity to carry to the 2025 federal election,” Dr Cameron said.

Dr Cameron and Professor McAllister’s research also found less than one in five teal voters had previously voted for the coalition, with these people ideologically closer to Labor and the left of centre.

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