Populism? Minor parties and independents in the Australian Federal Parliament, 1945–2016

Dugald Monro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The election of four One Nation Senators at the 2016 Australian Federal election has been seen as part of a world–wide rise of populist movements that criticizes main stream politics and rejects pluralism, putting forward single concepts of “the people”, that the movements claim to represent. While it is clear that Australian voters, like voters elsewhere, have been seeking alternatives to the major parties, it is less clear that the preferred alternatives fit this populist framework. Australia provides a good case study as the Australian electoral system makes it relatively easy for independents and minor parties to be elected to Parliament. This paper examines all independents and minor party candidates successfully elected in 2016 and at previous Australian Federal elections to determine whether the alternatives to the main stream parties elected since 1945 fit anti-pluralist populist models. It is concluded that, with the exception of the One Nation Party, most of the independents and minor party candidates elected to the Australian Federal Parliament have not fitted such models. However many of those elected do present a challenge to the electoral claims of the major parties. The article concludes by considering the implications of these findings for representative democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-240
Number of pages16
JournalPolicy Studies
Volume40
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2019

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