Polls, elections and Australian political history: a primer

6 August 2010

THERE have been so many records set recently in Australian politics that the politicians should be tested for steroids. We began the current electoral cycle with the personal defeat of a prime minister for only the second time in 110 years, with John Howard following the 1929 precedent of Stanley Bruce and being swept from parliament. Then, for the first time, the Liberals staged two leadership coups within three years. Finally – and again for the first time ever – a successful leadership coup was launched against a first-term prime minister, the leader who had achieved the equal-third-biggest winning swing since the second world war.

This raises an obvious question. Will this month’s election follow the precedent of the 1931 election, with Julia Gillard joining James Scullin as leader of one of only two federal governments defeated after only one term? Or else, will she follow Paul Keating as the only leader at either state or federal level – at least in the last half century – to win an election after…

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Rodney Tiffen, 2010, Polls, elections and Australian political history: a primer, Inside Story, viewed 27 March 2017, <http://apo.org.au/node/22259>.

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