The Greens could be facing a difficult time electorally, ABC’s analyst Antony Green says
The Greens may have hit a ceiling in electoral support and they now face a challenge to build beyond that, the ABC’s electoral analyst Antony Green said on Saturday.
Asked on ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra what Bob Brown’s retirement would mean for Julia Gillard, Antony Green said he thought at this stage you had to look at how it affected the Greens rather than the other parties.
Green pointed to the fact that the Greens achieved 5 per cent in federal electoral support for the first time in 2001 on the back of Labor’s support for the Howard Government’s border protection policies.
Since then, the Greens’ federal vote has grown to over 10 per cent.
“I think the challenge they face is trying to increase beyond that,” Green said.
“I think they might have hit a ceiling for the moment on the mainland, particularly as they’ve appealed, probably appealed most, to the category of relatively affluent university-educated.
“The electorates they do well in, which are safe Labor electorates, are actually relatively affluent Labor electorates with [a] very high proportion of university-educated population. They don’t do well in the traditional blue collar electorates.”
Antony Green pointed to the state seat of Marrickville in Sydney where, he said, the Greens get half the vote in Newtown, a trendy inner city area.
“Over the last 15 years I’ve watched them drift westwards in that electorate. Their vote has increased as each suburb has become increasingly gentrified and, as more better educated, higher income people move in, the Green vote goes up. That’s their base vote.
“Have they filled that quota? Have they taken all those people away from Labor Party? Because, on the evidence since the last federal election, the Victorian election, New South Wales election, and Queensland election, as the Labor vote has collapsed, it hasn’t aided the Greens at all. The Labor vote has gone straight over to the Liberals.
“So maybe Labor’s shed all its sort of obvious drift-to-the-Green votes. And what you see now is Labor is battling over the middle ground; and the Liberals are having great fun attacking Labor for being too close to the Greens because that allows them to dislodge people in the centre ground of politics away from Labor.
“The Greens don’t have a big appeal in those marginal electorates, the Penriths, those sorts of equivalent suburbs in every capital city, on the edge of the city where you’ve got new families trying to buy houses, reliance on cars, reliance on air-conditioning. The Greens don’t have a lot of appeal to those sorts of people, but they’re the sort of people that decide Australian elections – on the edges of Australia’s capital cities,” Antony Green said.