Very incisive piece by Jeff Sparrow on ABC’s The Drum on the message from last weekend’s election result:
While the result of Election 2010 remains uncertain, one message came through loud and clear.
Quite simply, people loathe what parliamentary politics has become.
That hatred manifested itself in the rate of informal voting, up to nearly six per cent nationally. In some seats, voters spoiled one in ten of their ballots; in Blaxland, the figure reached 14 per cent.
No, Mark Latham was not to blame. The informal vote has long been the instinctive refuge of the cynical and disaffected – and we all knew through the course of the campaign that cynicism and disaffection had reached remarkable levels.
The high rate of informal voting should not have been a surprise. This is an age of political withdrawal – if voting were not compulsory, many Australians would have stayed at home.
But what made the 2010 election different was the scepticism about the two party system also found a positive outlet, in the breakthrough vote for the Australian Greens.
The widespread disaffection that emerged during the campaign also manifested itself as disdain for the media – and it’s no wonder. It’s difficult to think of another democratic nation with a narrower political consensus in political reporting and commentary. Like an inept piano player, the Australian media, with a few honorable exceptions, improves endlessly on the same few notes, picking out a tune on the keyboard of neoliberal economics, the US alliance and ‘governing from the centre’.
For that reason, the Greens will almost certainly come under a ferocious hammering in the weeks to come, as the pundits switch from ignoring them to ridiculing them.