Voters look to minor parties after losing trust in majors

LEADERSHIP instability and a collapse in trust in the major parties are to blame for what could be the third hung parliament in 116 years, one of Australia's leading political academics believes.

The federal election result remains on a knife's edge and a hung parliament is a realistic outcome. If that happens, it will be only the third such parliament since 1910 - but the second in the past three elections.

University of Melbourne associate professor Sarah Maddison said poll-driven policies and repeated leadership coups had caused voters to turn away from the Coalition or Labor.

She said politicians had become poll-driven - and voters did not like it.

"There's been a real decline in conviction politicians," she said.

"John Howard, for all his profound faults, he clearly believed in the policies he was putting forward.

"Malcolm Turnbull has really paid the price for this.

"He was a man who had articulated a clear set of views. Instead we saw a man who had compromised his core beliefs. He has since rung very false."

Prof Maddison said the rise of minor parties in the 2013, as well as this election, showed how people were drifting away from Labor and the Coalition.

Nearly a quarter of voters gave their first preference to an independent or minor party on Saturday. However, that is not yet resulting in more Lower House seats.

The crossbench has won five Lower House seats - although the Greens are hoping to claim Batman from Labor.

Prof Maddison said minor parties and independents had become attractive as voters lost trust in the two major parties.

"What voters are telling the major parties is: we don't trust you, so we're going to elect this ragtag bunch of misfits," she said.

She said Labor was continuing to be challenged from the left as right-wing populist groups such as One Nation challenged the Coalition's conservative wing.

"The Greens are now a part of Australia's political landscape," she said.

"I think we will see more Lower House seats go to the Greens in future elections. Labor is absolutely feeling the pressure."

She said "hard right" parties such as One Nation and Family First had been a part of Australian politics for decades.

"What we don't want to see is government of either major party held hostage by their views," she said.


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