Major parties the election's biggest losers

July 8, 2016

The federal election is now over and the final outcome is still being worked out, but the winners and losers are becoming clearer by the day.

The two biggest losers were the major parties. While the Coalition retained enough seats to still be able to govern, it lost its sizable majority in the lower house and is facing an even more hostile Senate.

The Labor Party recovered several seats overall, but it still managed to record its second lowest number of votes in a Federal election since World War II.

There was one clear winner, even by Saturday night: the anti-immigration, anti-halal, anti-Islam, climate-change denialist Pauline Hanson's One Nation party, which picked up 4.2% of the vote nationally and saw the party's namesake re-elected to the Senate. With the final outcome still unclear at the time of writing, it remains possible that One Nation could pick up another two senate spots.

It seems this success is largely the result of One Nation picking up votes from the now defunct Palmer United Party, tapping into the mistrust of the major parties. The results reflect a similar mood in the electorate to the Brexit poll in the UK, that is, a deep mistrust of the major parties and an opposition to “globalism”.

That One Nation, a party with simplistic, xenophobic solutions to complex problems, has been able to increase its vote is surely a cause for concern, but the promotion of such ideas has not occurred in a vacuum. Such ideas are given oxygen and allowed to flourish while there is bipartisanship on the need to demonise refugees. The election of Hanson and One Nation to the senate gives a strong voice to the Islamphobes and climate-denialists in parliament — voices that already have plenty of representation in parliament.

Green Left Weekly has long opposed the populist racist rhetoric of Pauline Hanson, from her rise to the political stage 20 years ago to the high-school walkouts against racism, through to the “Reclaim Australia” counter-protests. We have covered and helped to build the campaigns against ignorance, racism and Islamaphobia perpetuated by Hanson and her ilk. And we will continue to do so.

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