South Australian politicians change the electoral rules in their favour

Sometime later this week the South Australian parliament will rig its electoral system in favour of established parties.

The idea is to “prevent virtual unknown” candidates from taking a seat by stopping candidates from benefiting from preference distribution unless they have 2.5 per cent of the primary vote. InDaily has the details here. Of course the changes are being rushed through as quickly as possible. That’s standard practice for this sort of legislation.

South Australia’s changes are a response to the 2013 election, where a number of very small parties got candidates elected. But as I argued in October, that federal result reflected an unprecedented level of dissatisfaction with the existing political choices on offer:

Virtually by definition, minor parties are small, and there are lots of them. With such a high non-major vote, and with no dominant minor party, obviously that dissatisfaction was going to spill to some unknown and obscure candidate.

Reforming the electoral system to hide this clear expression of dissatisfaction with the major parties would be deceitful and undemocratic

Altering the rules of the game to pretend that dissatisfaction doesn’t exist entrenches the existing parties, hides the voters expressed preferences, and as I wrote in October, is exactly the sort of naked self-interest that sent voters to reject the major parties in the first place.

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