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Victory for Labor and Xenophon

Monday, 20 March 2006

Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Adelaide, Dr Greg McCarthy, gives his analysis of the weekend's State election result.

The following comments can be attributed to Dr Greg McCarthy, Senior Lecturer, Discipline of Politics, University of Adelaide. For further comments about any aspect of the State election, please contact Dr McCarthy on his contact details listed below.

As predicted by Dr Clem Macintyre and myself, the election result was a landslide win for the Rann Government. This is as dramatic a win for the ALP as their 1993 loss was for them. You would have to go back to the 1975 election and Don Dunstan to find a comparable contrast between the ALP and the Liberal Party.

The likely result of the House of Assembly will be 29 ALP, 2 Independents (Bob Such and Rory McEwen), National (Karlene Maywald) and 15 Liberal. The metropolitan swing was in the order of 7 per cent to the Government; although in some areas, notably the more affluent booths, the swing against the Liberal Party was around 13%; making marginal seats such as Norwood and Adelaide safe for the ALP; at the same time shifting Unley from a safe to a marginal Liberal seat.

This was a clear victory for the Premier and his campaigning team who concentrated on the Government's economic credentials and its expenditure in the areas of health and education. The victory can however be set against an Opposition, whom the electorate deemed as not yet ready to govern. Its policy choice of lower taxes went out into the electoral wilderness - a wilderness created in part by the good economic times for most of the electorate.

The other big winner on the night was the anti-politician and proudly independent Nick Xenophon. He was treated shabbily by both major parties in preference arrangements but will now have the last laugh on both of them. He
obtained nearly three quotas in his own right. This outstanding result was a combination of his political skills and the disillusionment with the major parties: especially the Liberal Party whose Legislative Council vote has dropped
to around 25%; a fall of 14% from 2002. The probable outcome of the Legislative Council vote is 4 ALP; 3 Liberal ; 2 Xenophon (with Ann Bressington); 1 Family First and 1 Greens.

The election result seems a real paradox. Premier Rann, the professional politician, was swept back into power with an enhanced majority and yet the avowed anti-politician gained a record high vote for an Independent. But both Mike Rann and Nick Xenophon are not that dissimilar in that they are both consummate media performers. They can claim much of the victory from the election. However, it is also worth remembering that in the 47 House of Assembly seats and the 11 Legislative Council positions many candidates put their reputations and future on the line to represent the people and some will be looking for a new career.

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