Labor’s promise to deliver in Victoria may well be illusive

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, his partner and daughter on election evening.

While the final results of Victoria’s November 24 state elections are yet to be announced, Labor looks set to go from 47 to 52 seats in the state’s Legislative Assembly, after receiving a primary vote of 43%.

It also appears Labor will have 19 seats in the new Legislative Council, up from 14 seats, though it may pay a heavy price for preferencing some racist and anti-worker micro parties ahead of the Greens.

The Coalition received a combined primary vote of 36%, representing a 6.2% swing against it, with the Liberals predicted to go from 14 to 9 seats. The Liberals lost all its marginal seats in the south-eastern “sand belt” (beachside suburbs) and is in danger of losing safe seats in the eastern suburbs, including Hawthorn.

At the time of writing, postal and early votes (estimated to make up 40% of votes cast) have yet to be counted and a number of seats are still in doubt.

Second-term Labor Premier Daniel Andrews has put the result down to his party’s “rejection of fear and division”.

But this is only partly true.

While people did reject the Coalition’s reactionary scare campaign against minorities, Labor is not entirely blameless. It also ran a scaremongering campaign about African gangs and supposed skyrocketing crime rates.

On the other hand, Labor’s promise to better fund infrastructure, including removing several level crossings, and to boost funding to TAFE, public schools and hospitals was clearly very popular, as they have long been union and community campaigns.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Greens suffered an overall 1.6% swing against it and Northcote Greens MP Lidia Thorpe, the first Aboriginal woman in Victorian parliament, lost her seat to Labor.

At the time of writing, the Greens look set to retain the seats of Melbourne and Prahran and potentially pick up Brunswick from Labor.

In the Legislative Council, the preference deals stitched up by “preference whisperer” Glenn Druery look set to deliver seats to several right-wing micro parties, including Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party (which could win up to four seats), the Aussie Battler Party, the Liberal Democrats, Sustainable Australia, Transport Matters and the Animal Justice Party.

The tight preference exchange between the right-wing parties made it very difficult for the left in the Legislative Council, with the Greens dropping from five MPs to just one, keeping a seat in the Northern Metropolitan Region.

Labor had a hand in this outcome. Its negotiations with minor right-wing parties meant that it preferenced the Greens after Transport Matters; Sustainable Australia; Shooters, Fishers and Farmers; and the Aussie Battler Party.

The Greens were not exempt from the wheeling and dealing, with the party preferencing Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and the Aussie Battler Party ahead of Labor in the Northern Metropolitan Region.

The Victorian Socialists were the only left-wing party that did not participate in any preference deals with right-wing parties. Despite having the fourth-highest vote in the Northern Metropolitan Region, it did not win a seat due to the dodgy deals.

Some of the swing against the Greens can be attributed to the negative media surrounding some of their candidates. Just days before the elections, the Greens stood down a candidate after receiving details of alleged sexual misconduct.

Labor responded by launching opportunistic attacks, accusing the Greens of fostering a toxic culture towards women.

The swing against the Greens and the inability of the Victorian Socialists to gain a seat will have an impact on social and environmental movements that have been battling Labor’s public housing sell-offs and the logging of national forests.

In addition, Labor’s promise to the union movement to deliver new laws to criminalise industrial manslaughter and wage theft may well be illusive without a strong grassroots campaign to force the reactionary micro parties to back legislation in the Legislative Council.