Primaries: Australia’s Labor Party holds successful experiment

The Australian Labor Party has become the latest party to experiment with primary elections - 43,300 locals turned out in an election in Sydney this weekend.

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Australia has become the latest country to experiment with primary elections with the Labor Party using the technique to select their candidate for the Sydney Lord Mayor’s election, which will take place in September. The contest has been seen as a success with ten times the number of people taking part than in a normal party selection contest.

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Refugee campaigner, Linda Scott, was the victorious candidate from a choice of five picking up 53 per cent of the vote after preferences had been redistributed under Australia’s ‘alternative vote’ system.

More than 4,300 residents living in the Sydney City Council region (around 5 per cent of those eligible) chose to vote in the primary either by post, in person at one of four polling stations, or online.

Their votes counted formed half the total in an electoral college where the other half was made up of around 400 eligible party members. Residents therefore outnumber party members by more than ten to one in the poll.

On Saturday, The Australian newspaper reported that the trial was part of an attempt by Labor to re-establish links with the community – New South Wales Labor secretary Sam Dastyari told the paper:

“We have to change how we select our candidates. We need more people involved in deciding who should represent the party and primaries are a way to achieve this.”

In 2010, three senior party figures recommended that primaries should be implemented nationally although no model has yet been agreed upon. Mr Dastyari will experiment with several further primaries in the run up to the state elections in 2015. It is hoped now that many of the new voters in Sydney will be converted into activists.

Australia’s experiment follows the French Socialist Party’s primary to select Francois Hollande as its successful candidate for President.

More than 5.5 million votes were cast over the two rounds of that contest with each voter paying a minimum of €1. The Socialists also collected contact details from more than 1 million individuals making it far easier to mobilise them during the presidential election.

 


See also:

Will primaries address the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’? 29 Mar 2012

French primaries point the way for democracy 11 Oct 2011

A new hope v the old attitudes 13 Jun 2010


 

The question now is whether the British Labour party will follow these successful examples from its sister parties and experiment itself.

 


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21 Responses to “Primaries: Australia’s Labor Party holds successful experiment”

  1. Marcus A. Roberts

    Primaries: Australia's Labor Party holds successful experiment reports @wdjstraw //t.co/l0CcRDW4

  2. Pulp Ark

    Primaries: Australia’s Labor Party holds successful experiment //t.co/RuyW0Z5B #CleanPolitics #primaries #muslim #tcot #sioa

  3. John Rentoul

    Australian Labor Party experiments with primary election – via Will Straw //t.co/qvZ82czq

  4. SPECIALITY NEWS

    Primaries: Australia's Labor Party holds successful experiment – Left Foot Forward //t.co/GqN6xYTz

  5. Jack Storry

    Another of Labour's sister parties trials primaries – //t.co/A12Zuj15

  6. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Primaries: Australia’s Labor Party holds successful experiment //t.co/kMoO3HW6

  7. Eolan Ryng

    Primaries: Australia's Labor Party holds successful experiment reports @wdjstraw //t.co/l0CcRDW4

  8. Selohesra

    So what stops political opponents joining up and foisting a complete loser candidate on you – if you are not careful you end end up with all your candidates being like Ed M and face electoral anihilation

  9. Andrew Adonis

    Will Straw on Australian Labour Party's successful primary in Sydney. //t.co/dspKOTgA

  10. Shamik Das

    Primaries: Australia's Labor Party holds successful experiment reports @wdjstraw //t.co/l0CcRDW4

  11. Political Planet

    Primaries: Australia’s Labor Party holds successful experiment: The Australian Labor Party has become the latest… //t.co/oAJN6fLS

  12. Anonymous

    Of course you have to find something sinister in it, and combine it with a party-political attack.

    In reality, it’s something of a mistake to draw parallels from the Australian system to the UK one. Given the difference in the voting system (FPTP vs Preferential Voting) and Australia’s compulsory voting, it’s almost impossible to say what factors are at work.

    Under PR, you’re far less likely to end up with the situation, as in the UK, where the main parties are in fact coalitions, and that there are massive differences between the candidates in terms of their actual core values, rather than specifics and exact direction for the party.

  13. Mr. Sensible

    Newsbot9, apart from the party political attack I think Selohesra has a point. I’m not quite sure why anyone who wouldn’t vote Labour would care who the candidate is. Personality politics is, I think, something we should be getting away from.

    And given that in Australia they had a 5% turnout, I think calling it a success might be stretching things a bit…

  14. Anonymous

    There is a reply button, you know.

    And perhaps because the people interested in a party are wider than the actual party members? You say we should “get away” from personality politics, but it’s those personalities who stand for election. I say that personality, rather than fundamental policy from several different parties (in any sane system) is a great thing to select within a single party.

    5% is far higher than the party membership.

  15. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Primaries: Australia’s Labor Party holds successful experiment //t.co/uFo9BMVJ

  16. Selohesra

    Nothing sinister Botty – leaving aside the Ed M comment I think it is risky giving the opportunity to influence candidate selection to people who secretly may not have the best interests of the party in mind.

  17. Anonymous

    That is, though, down to the party no? I don’t agree with the concept and even if you do it, 50% of the collage is wayyyy too high.

    But it IS the party’s decision.

  18. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Primaries: Australia’s Labor Party holds successful experiment //t.co/uFo9BMVJ

  19. Richard Angell

    Primaries: Australia's Labor Party holds successful experiment reports @wdjstraw //t.co/l0CcRDW4

  20. Justin Jarvis

    Primaries: Australia's Labor Party holds successful experiment reports @wdjstraw //t.co/l0CcRDW4

  21. Nick Anstead

    Very interesting development from Aus Labor candidate selection //t.co/vcaBLgaA (thanks @wdjstraw for passing on).

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