Measuring Minor Party Impact: The Australian Greens in a Changing Party System

Author: Josh Holloway

Holloway, Josh, 2019 Measuring Minor Party Impact: The Australian Greens in a Changing Party System, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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In 2017, the Australian Greens celebrated its 25th anniversary as a national political organisation. Nine Greens senators and a single Greens member of the House of Representatives now sit within the federal parliament. But what impact does the party have on Australian politics? This thesis investigates the impact of the Greens in Australian politics by assessing the party’s influence over the party system. The dominant perspective in the literature characterises the Australian party system as a relatively stable two- or two-and-a-half-party system. As such, either the common characterisations of the party system are inaccurate, or the Greens possess little capacity to shape the competitive environment in which they operate. Employing novel techniques and approaches seldom used in Australian political science, this thesis investigates party competition, ideological polarisation, electoral volatility, government formation, voting behaviour, and the contest for legislative outcomes. The evidence reveals general change in what is a multidimensional Australian party system. Two-partism is giving way to a contingent multipartism; while the contest for government remains marked by two-partism, multiparty dynamics are consolidating in the electoral arena and the Senate. In this process of change, however, the Greens are a party of meaningful but nonetheless minimal impact, more constrained and shaped by their competitive environment than they are capable of bringing about its transformation. This thesis therefore furthers our understanding of the Australian party system, party competition, minor parties and, especially, the role and development of the Australian Greens.

Keywords: Australian Greens, Australian party system, minor parties, party systems, green parties

Subject: Politics thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2019
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Dr Haydon Manning