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Australian voters are increasingly driven by issues rather than party loyalty – and that’s bad news for the old political order | Intifar Chowdhury
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Australian voters are increasingly driven by issues rather than party loyalty – and that’s bad news for the old political order | Intifar Chowdhury


As Australia shifts its focus away from the dominant political parties and experiences a shift in generations, a new group of progressive voters is emerging. This is causing the political landscape to become more unpredictable, with voters being driven by specific issues rather than loyalty to a particular party.

I computed the data to uncover the factors behind this shift, with a particular focus on climate concerns.

The percentage of Millennials and Gen Z in the electorate has risen to 43%. As they mature, they continue to hold progressive beliefs, challenging traditional assumptions of becoming more conservative with age. These younger generations also tend to delay traditional markers of adulthood, maintaining a youthful political mindset for a longer period of time.

The Australian Greens were once on the outskirts of politics, but now they are taking advantage of this change and presenting challenges to the existing political system. The importance of climate-related concerns, such as environmental preservation and global warming, has risen significantly, impacting voting choices.

This reflects a worldwide pattern, with elections being more influenced by ecological worries, resulting in a surge of backing for environmentally-friendly parties throughout Europe and the possibility of a green movement emerging in south-east Asia.

According to my investigations, the ability to understand and adjust to climate issues will greatly impact the future success of political parties in Australia.

Policies play a crucial role for the majority of voters.

Analyzing over ten years of data from the AES covering five national elections (2010-2022), my study shows that for the majority of voters (56.3%), policy matters are the main factor influencing their decisions.

This is followed by a discussion of the groups involved (22.4%), leaders of the groups (11.5%), and individuals running for office in their electoral districts (9.9%).

Remarkably, the topic of the environment and its impact on global warming has become increasingly important in elections. Roughly 25% of voters in the 2022 election cited an environmental issue as their main worry, a significant increase from the 2010 election where only 12% of voters expressed the same concern.

, quality of life

Labor is increasingly seen as the top choice for overseeing the environment, managing the cost of living, and improving overall quality of life.

Participants were also inquired about the level of importance they placed on each issue in relation to their voting decision. They were then prompted to select the major political party whose policies aligned closest with their own beliefs in each policy category.

The Labor party emerged as the preferred manager in a variety of prominent and emerging issues, such as the environment, global warming, and cost of living.

When faced with lesser but still significant matters, voters tended to support Labor for healthcare and Medicare, while the Coalition received approval for their handling of the economy and taxes.

The Coalition seems to be falling behind in the area that used to be its stronghold. In the 2022 election, there was a significant change as, for the first time in five elections, most voters believed that Labor better represented their beliefs on immigration, refugees, and asylum seekers – an area that was previously associated with the Coalition.

Australians are investigating alternative parties in addition to the common ones.

Out of the five elections, the environment and global warming were the most frequently discussed issues. However, a significant number of voters who identified with a major party’s stance on this issue ultimately did not vote for that party. Another type of voter who did not have a clear alignment with a major party and also did not vote for any party was also present.

Not surprisingly, the study found that climate voters who did not align with any specific party tended to lean towards the left, with many stating that the Labor party was in line with their beliefs. However, on election day, they opted for the Green party instead, with a majority citing concerns for the environment (67.8%) and global warming (69.0%) as their main motivators.

Approximately 20% of individuals expressed that the Labor party aligned closely with their beliefs on climate, yet ultimately voted for a different party or independent candidates (19.6% on environmental issues and 20.8% on global warming).

This demonstrates that while the Greens are seen as the dominant party in environmental protection, Australians are willing to consider alternative options outside of the traditional players.

Our society is progressively embracing swinging.

The 2022 election marked a significant change in Australian politics, influenced by societal changes. The percentage of voters who strictly align with a specific political party is on the decline. Topics typically associated with the center-left ideology are gaining more importance.

One topic that has been and will continue to be a top priority in politics is climate change.

The Greens have reason to celebrate as their growing support can be linked to generational change. Newer generations, who have been exposed to intense discussions and protests focused on environmental issues, are taking over from older generations when it comes to voting.

Undoubtedly, this is unfortunate news for the Coalition. However, it also presents a legitimate worry for the Labor party, particularly among the younger generation who tend to have more progressive views.

The increasing significance of concerns like climate change and survivalist matters like housing affordability and living expenses indicates that the current political landscape is not likely to shift in favor of right-leaning ideologies in the near future.

The modern Australian voter is adaptable and may change their voting decisions based on specific concerns, rather than remaining loyal to a particular party. This has significant consequences, as political parties of all ideologies will have to work harder to secure and maintain these votes.

  • Intifar Chowdhury is a young researcher and a government lecturer at Flinders University.

Source: theguardian.com