Essential polling shows support for a democratic economy, proportional representation

February 7, 2024
The Essential poll found that support for proportional representation among minor party voters was high. Photo: Community First campaigning in council positions in Cairns/Facebook

Essential Research (ER) has found support for a democratic economic system and for proportional representation, which would make the electoral system fairer for minor parties.

The poll, commissioned privately, revealed significant support for workers and the community owning the majority of businesses.

With a sample size of 1201, nationally weighted against key demographics, ER found that 35% support transitioning towards an “economic democracy”.

This was defined as a system where the workers and community largely own businesses.

Thirty-five per cent of respondents opposed such a move, preferring the status quo. Another 29% were either “not sure” or had a different preference.

Greens voters were most in favour of economic democracy, with 56% in favour and just 15% against.

Forty-one percent of Labor voters supported such a move, with 35% against.

Only 25% of Liberal and National Party voters supported a move towards an economic democracy, with 51% saying they were against.

In general, these results show that voters are to the left of the major parties on who should own most businesses.

A higher proportion of women supported economic democracy, compared to men, with the former’s net support at +7% compared to men at -7%.

People between the ages of 18–54 indicated +9% net support for economic democracy, while for those aged 55 and over it was -15%.

Net support for economic democracy across varying educational demographics was fairly even, as was net support across capital cities and everywhere else, and among different income groups.

Turning to respondents’ financial circumstances, those who were “struggling a bit”, or “in serious difficulty”, were in favour (+9%) of economic democracy while those in serious economic difficulty showed even greater support (+16%).

Net support among those more financially comfortable was -8%.

Among renters and homeowners with mortgages, net support was +5% and +6% respectively, while homeowners with no mortgage showed a net support of -10%.

The poll also asked voters whether they would support proportional representation in the House of Representatives: 34% were in favour; 34% preferred the status quo; and a further 32% were either unsure or preferred a different electoral system.

Among Greens voters, 47% supported proportional representation and 19% preferred the status quo.

For those intending to vote for other minor parties, or independents, support for proportional representation sat at 36%, with 28% preferring the status quo.

Among Labor voters, 35% supported a shift to proportional representation and 38% favoured the status quo.

Among Liberal and National Party voters, 30% were in favour while 42% preferred the status quo.

Again, women were more in support of change with a net support of +4%, whereas for men it was -5%.

Support for proportional representation was much stronger with younger and middle-aged voters than with older voters. With voters aged 18–34, net support sat at +11%.

With voters aged 35–54, net support was +10%. Among people aged 55 and over, net support sat at -17%.

With capital city voters, net support sat at +4%, while everywhere else it was -8%.

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