After the Liberal Party lost the Victorian election last year, Peter Costello reflected on the fact the Party had lost 20 state-level elections in a row. He said:
We have got to make sure we are recruiting good people, we have got to get our organisation together, we have got to work on policy. You can't leave an election to the last four months. An election is a four-year proposition and right around Australia the Liberal Party has got to come to grips with this and we have got to lift our game.
And lift their game they must.
||No of seats held by Liberals
||Per cent of seats held by Liberals
||Years Liberals have held govt since 1980
||Date from which ALP most recently gained government|
||April 4, 1995|
||October 19, 1999|
||June 20, 1998|
||April 5, 2002|
||February 16, 2001|
||September 14, 1998|
||August 18, 2001|
||November 5, 2001|
||November 24, 2007|
*These results are as of 9.00am EST on November 27, 2007.
This table indicates the number of seats the Liberals hold in Australian parliaments, the length of time it has held government since 1980, and the time from which the ALP assumed government.
It clearly shows that the Liberal’s loss on Saturday was hardly a turn of the “election cycle”, but rather final confirmation that the ALP is Australia’s natural party of government.
There are two reasons for this dominance.
The first is that social democracy - the implementation of policies (including policies involving the redistribution of income) to maximise social cohesion - has been the dominant political philosophy since World War II.
The ALP is the natural Australian home of this world view. Absent a flirtation of a political extreme - such as socialism - and given party unity, the post 1980 domination of Labor is hardly a surprise.
The second issue is the professionalism of the ALP.
As Bruce Hawker observed in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on September 14, 2006, the ALP's run of electoral losses during the 1990's meant it had to fundamentally rethink its attitude to intervention in the economy and reject the notion that states could manipulate the market.
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