When I teaching voting and how it can lead to surprising results, I often have to cook examples. But no longer. The recent Victorian state election has given rise to a nice anomaly — one that was theoretically possible. The end result has been that the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) — a party that those under 50 probably have never heard of — has won two Senate seats. This is ironic because one of the supposed disadvantages of a preferential voting system is that it disadvantages minor parties (click here). Not this time!
The Age has a nice description as to how this happened. The first preference votes looked like this for one of the seats:
Notice that the DLP is in 5th place! In our preferential voting system (here is a description and here is another), because Labor did not have over 50 percent of the votes, the second preferences of the Others and then the Liberals were allocated. This resulted in:
This actually moved the DLP up. The DLP seems left wing but actually, for historical reasons, attracts a range of voters from all over the place. Now, it was Family First — a right wing party — whose preferences would be allocated:
These went to the DLP in large number; perhaps another surprise. So now the Nationals (another right wing — sort of — party) were eliminated.
The Nationals had allocated their official preferences to the DLP over the Greens and Labor. So the DLP moved to the top and Labor to the bottom (by just a bit).
But Labor had allocated preferences to the DLP (it is like a sister party — or maybe a divorced spouse). That put the DLP over the line. This used to be just textbook stuff.