Monday, March 14, 2011


Otto’s Rules of Elections:

The following principles of voting and elections are my own observations, developed over a number of years.

Feel free to dispute, add or comment.

1. People vote governments out, not in.

Voters do not change votes for an alternative government when they are satisfied with the government in power. As long as that government is doing okay, they will keep that government in. When dissatisfaction sets in, they will then vote for the alternative.

2. People care more about national issues than international issues.

People care more about State issues than national issues.

Voters care more about issues that directly affect them than issues in the abstract. They are influenced by what they feel themselves, by what is affecting them and their situation.

3. People are affected by the hip pocket nerve.

A voter who is facing loss of his or her job because of adverse and worsening economic conditions, as an example, has little time for carbon emissions and assistance for boat people.

Rule 3 ties in with Rule 2.

4. For the most part, people will vote the way they have always voted.

It will take a lot to cause a Labor vote to vote Liberal, Green etc and vice versa. This is not a rule I can take credit for and it is the reason why swinging voters often determine elections.

5. The average voter knows nothing of policies, candidates, preferences etc.

I may sound arrogant, but having handed out “How to Vote” brochures as a booth worker for a friend in Council and State elections over many years, I would be a rich man if I had one dollar for every time I was asked “Which one is Liberal?” or similar. Ask the average voter who his or her State and Federal Members are and their platforms and I bet that maybe a couple out of a hundred will know.

6. Most people have their minds made up for them by the media, especially newspapers.

Media dissatisfaction and criticism translates into votes in the ballot box.

Keep telling the electorate over and over that Kristina Keneally is on the nose and pretty soon the average punter will adopt that view and those expressions as his or her own.

Barry O’Farrell does not need to do anything but sit back and let Kristina Keneally lose, which is pretty much what he has been doing.

7. Generally, the sound bite has replaced analysis.

Voters rely more upon a spot by a pollie on Sunrise than in careful consideration of policies. How a pollie handles an appearance on talkback radio is more influential than what an anlyst says in The Australian.

8. Image sells, as long as the media is on side.

Packaging is all important now. How many ALP parliamentarians are lawyers and other professionals these days and how many are trade union officials? Ironic, isn’t it, for a party called the Labor Party.

(By the way, ever wondered why the name is the Australian Labor Party and not the Australian Labour Party? That is, why Labor is spelt without a "u"?

The following is from Wikipedia:
The ALP adopted the formal name "Australian Labour Party" in 1908, but changed the spelling to "Labor" in 1912. While it is standard practice in Australian English both today and at the time to spell the word labour with a "u", the party was influenced by the United States labour movement and a prominent figure in the early history of the party, the American–born King O’Malley, was successful in having the spelling "modernised". The change also made it easier to distinguish references to the party from the labour movement in general. Furthermore, the spelling "labor" had been acceptable in both British and Australian English in earlier periods.)
So have I got it wrong or do you agree?  Drop me a line or post a comment.

1 comment:

  1. Years ago I came across a pamphlet urging the public to always vote out governments, as a rule. They should be re-elected only when they've performed particularly well. So (in theory at least) we would be rid of career politicians and only the most deserving would qualify for parliamentary pensions.


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