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Title: The success of the micro-parties in 2013
Contributor(s): Page, James S  (author)
Publication Date: 2014
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: One of surprising results from the 2013 federal election in Australia has been the success of the micro-parties, notably in contesting the Senate. There is no exact definition for micro-party, although this is generally taken to denote a political party with no relevant parliamentary representation, and thus a political party with little or no resources. The success of the micro-parties in 2013 in Australia offers some important lessons for political campaigning. The first lesson is on the importance of having a good online presence. In some ways, the internet has democratized political campaigning, in that the internet has diminished the fundamental advantage that major political parties enjoy. Increasingly, voters are going to the internet for information, and if a political party can project a good image and good information, then voters will be attracted. Social networking is important, with some 11 million Australians currently active users of social networking. However in addition to this a micro-party and indeed candidates need a good basic website. The second lesson is on the importance of engaging members. There are a number of ways this can be done, but central amongst them would be having regular meetings and good newsletters. In the internet age, meetings often have a symbolic significance. It is not so much how many attend, but the fact that meetings are held can be highlighted on the internet. Appearance is important, and the fact that a political party is having meetings gives the appearance of activity and dynamism. Engaging members is also important in attracting and retaining members, especially important considering the threshold of 500 members, without which a party will not remain registered. The third lesson, especially relevant for the Senate, is the importance of negotiating good preference deals. The way that micro-parties can be elected due to preference deals remains something of a controversial issue. There is an argument (for instance, as set forth in 'Directly chosen by the people' in Online Opinion on 11/1/2013 by this author) that such arrangements are contrary to the intent of the Australian Constitution. However until such time as there is either the political will to change this system, or until such time as some person or body can fund an appeal to the full High Court of Australia on this issue, it is likely such preference deals will continue, and it makes sense for micro-parties to make use of this system.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: On Line Opinion: Australia's e-journal of social and political debate
Publisher: Internet Thinking Pty Ltd
Place of Publication: online
ISSN: 1442-8458
Field of Research (FOR): 160601 Australian Government and Politics
HERDC Category Description: C3 Non-Refereed Article in a Professional Journal
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