The balance of power in Australia rests in the hands of four Independents and one Green candidate. Whoever becomes Prime Minister these four (or five) will still sit on the cross benches and make their life a misery. That's unavoidable. Meantime, who will land the top gig?
Abbott and Gillard have each tried to make their own case about why the job should be theirs. Gillard says Labor has received the most number of votes on a two-party preferred basis. Abbott says the Liberals and Nationals received the most first-preference votes. Both arguments are meaningless in a political system where seats are allocated based on the political persuasion of each individual electorate. If they ignore the geography are both party leaders arguing for proportional representation? I think not.
If people hadn't voted for Bob Katter in Kennedy who would they have voted for? If the Australian Electoral Commission published the next preference of Katter voters we'd know that. Unfortunately, it's not something they do publish, but you don't have to be a genius to work out most would have voted for the Liberal candidate.
Katter will be grateful to Labor for passing their preferences so he won convincingly against the Liberals on a two-party preferred basis, but he can't argue that this is an electorate that shows much sentiment towards the ALP. After all, they only got 20 percent of the primary vote. So Katter can call as many meetings as he likes with power-brokers in Canberra, but if he sides with anyone other than the Coalition can he really argue that he is reflecting the wishes of his local constituents?
In the NSW seat of Lyne, Independent Rob Oakeshott will find it similarly difficult to argue that his voters want him to side with the other mob. It's almost exactly the same situation as Kennedy. Labor polled about a quarter of the Independent vote, then passed their preferences on to Oakeshott so he convincingly beat the Nationals on a two-party preferred basis --- but a region that voted 35,000 Independent, almost 26,000 Nationals and less than 10,000 Labor clearly doesn't want Gillard to be Prime Minister.
The same goes for New England. Tony Windsor, the Independent candidate, won 62 percent of the primary vote and the Nationals got 25 percent. The Country Labor Party got 8 percent. If Tony Windsor hadn't been around do we really expect that the majority would have voted Labor instead? Of course not.
Voters in Melbourne and Denison are far more aligned to the left. In Melbourne they voted Green for Christ's sake, and the ALP had a higher primary vote than the Greens anyway. Hard to argue that these people want a Coalition government. The Liberal party vote fled to the Greens in preferences (anything to stop a Labor win) which is why it went their way. Anyway, the Green's candidate Adam Bandt has already said he will side with the ALP.
The Tasmanian seat of Denison is also clearly more aligned to Labor. They got 60 percent more votes than Liberal on First Preferences and almost twice as many as the winning Independent candidate. Andrew Wilkie can thank preferences from the Liberals, plus, I assume, most of the 12,000 Green votes for pushing him into the lead on a two-party preferred basis.
So, you see, it's clear where each of these electorate's political allegiances lie. Those holding the seats of Kennedy, Lyne and New England should reflect the views of their voters and agree to support the Coalition in forming government. With it looking like the Coalition will hold 73 seats in its own right, these three Independents will be enough to get Tony Abbott's brigade over the line.
Of course, the Independent candidates are using their new-found fame to argue for accountability. If that's the case, they too should be asking the AEC to open the books and let us see who each of their supporters put as their next preference.
Although it wouldn't necessarily be my choice, it looks like a Labor government would be a miscarriage of democracy. But, as I say, whoever wins, they're going to have a bugger of a time trying to get a consensus vote on anything!