What made more than 25% of Marrickville voters boycott the last by-election, 2005?
What makes more than 10% of the state’s residents regularly express their total loss of faith in ALL political institutions, by boycotting the elections somehow?
What are the reasons behind our campaign to boycott the current state election in 2007?
The simple answer is: because there is a total absence of a true visionary leadership at the moment.
It is very clear that the Labor has abandoned its commitments to social justice issues, and is trying to creep more and more towards the right. Equally clear is the increasing influence of the Labor right faction on the decision-making inside Labor.
But what about the smaller parties? Why could they not present alternative leadership?
There is no doubt that the increase in popularity of the largest 2 small parties (the Democrats and Greens) were just as protest votes against the major parties.
The increased popularity of the Democrats was a protest vote against the Liberals ignoring some social justice issues like Environment, Refugees and Racism.
The increase of the vote to the Greens was a protest vote against Labor’s lack of true leadership to stand against the far-right extreme politics of John Howard. It was never because of the Australians’ awareness about the Environmental issues became suddenly high (if we can assume that the Greens are strong on defending the environment anyway). There was a core group who supported Environmental issues. However up to now even though more people support Environmental issues, this is only one of the “protests” which they want to make against the big parties.
But why this assumption that the increase of the vote of the Greens was in fact a message of no-confidence in Labor, rather than message of confidence in the Greens?
I can explain this by giving one simple example.
From all statistics, we can easily assume that more than half of the Muslims who voted in the last state election voted for the Greens.
Can anyone suggest that Muslims voters (who are socially conservative) did vote for the Greens because indeed they supported the Greens’ very liberal social policies? Can anyone suggest that this socially conservative group of voters support the Greens pro-abortion policy, pro-euthanasia policy, pro gay marriage policy, Greens drugs policy…?
It was clear that the vote for the Greens was just a protest vote against Labor’s loss of vision. It was a pragmatic move from the voters to see if the new emerging political force will present a real alternative and incorporate their issues in its agenda.
It is very clear, at least for me, that the small parties did fail the trust and the test.
We saw how the Democrats failed the voters on the GST (and even before).
And we did see how the Greens failed the voters.
The Greens, whose increased popularity in the last few years came on pure social justice issues, failed to take any practical step to advance these issues.
The party that promoted itself as a pro-Multiculturalism party is still a pure white party, with no trace of any other color in its leadership or membership. The party that claimed to seek better public education, public transport, and public housing did some attempts at campaigning on some of these issues, but with no practical effect. May be this is because it has no real grassroots supports and just puts intellectual arguments for electoral gains only. So of course it could not achieve any of these promises. The party that promotes the slogan of “clean politics” started to make very dirty deals and steps; the last was the deal with the extreme-right to swap preferences in Victorian state election late last year.
And this is why it could not attract any of the 25% of the voters who boycotted Marrickville by-election.
But more importantly is that our message of no-confidence in Labor was lost in the Greens translation as confidence in the Greens. And because of this, the Greens were able to fool us in the last few years. They got our vote, we got nothing in return (and I am not talking about “us” as Muslims only, but about all decent Australians who are looking for a real alternative)
So who would I vote for in the next state election?
In the last state election, we sent an ambiguous message (by punishing Labor by voting the Greens). This time (and until we build a real alternative political force to truly represent us) I will send an unequivocal and clear message. I will boycott. I will go to the polling booth, but will drop the ballot paper blank: no names and no votes.
It is not a waste of a vote, as some people who are members in these political parties are claiming. In fact it’s tripling my voting strength. If I vote for the Greens to punish Labor, I am only sending a message to the Labor. But by boycotting, I am sending multiple messages: one to the Labor, one to the Greens, one to the Democrats and one to the Liberals. The message is that: we still have an alternative – at the same time that we are still looking for better alternatives, ones which actually work with us at the grassroots level on things which matter to us.