The NSW election is over and the Greens have done commendably well, securing some 8.9% of the vote - up from the 8.3% they received in 2004.
Yet they were still beaten by the National Party, who have secured 10.1% of the vote. Seeing as I've been touting the fact that the Greens are now Australia's third largest party, what has gone on? Am I mistaken? Have I been lying?
The results for the 2004 Federal election are stark. The Liberals took 40.8% of the primary vote and the Labor party took 37.6%. After that is the Greens with 7.2% and the National Party with just 5.9% of the vote.
So what's going on? The thing is that the National Party is not national. For the 2004 Federal election, look at the voting trends for each state:
NSW: 9.2% voted National
Western Australia: 0.6%
South Australia: 1.0%
Tasmania: 0.0% (No National candidates at all)
ACT: 0.0% (No National candidates)
Northern Territory: 0.0% (Again, no National candidates)
What this shows is that the National Party is essentially an East Coast phenomenon. Moreover, the only two states in which the Nats seem to gain votes are NSW and Queensland. Victoria's National party is quite small, and WA and SA don't seem to have much influence at all. As for Tassie, the ACT and the NT, the Nationals don't even bother to run.
But, of course, states like Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia still have a large amount of farmers who could theoretically vote for the Nationals (the Nationals tend to be the rural party and pursue policy intended to serve farmers). So what's going on?
There's always been a rivalry between the Libs and the Nats - even though they are in a coalition together. It's my understanding that, over time, the Libs have managed to gain large inroads into parts of rural Australia that the Nats could have won over had they tried.
But, I suppose this just runs with the naming irony of Australian politics. The "Liberal" party is the conservative party, the "National" party is not national, the "Labor" party often manages to alienate workers and the "One Nation" party managed to divide the nation.