The Malcolm Mackerras Six And The Question Of How To Define A Landslide

In a weekend newspaper article, the well-known psephologist and election analyst, Malcolm Mackerras, argued that there have been only six federal election “landslide” victories.

In his article, Mackerras nominated the six elections as: 1917, 1929, 1931, 1943, 1966 and 1975.

Mackerras quite rightly objected to the idea that “every second federal election” is a landslide. He described the 2013 election as a “respectable loss” for the ALP but not worthy of being called a landslide.

He said: “However, I have a more rigorous definition, the details of which I have not the space to elaborate now.”

How To Define “Landslide”

I would suggest two essential election statistics as criteria for defining a landslide:

  1. The proportion of House of Representatives seats held by the winning party or parties.
  2. The national two-party-preferred vote achieved by the winning party or parties.

The primary vote achieved by the election winners is also of some interest but since our system of compulsory preferential voting always provides us with a national figure of combined primary and preferred votes the primary vote alone doesn’t necessarily mean much. [Read more…]

December 10: Most Popular Federal Election Date

Today, December 10, is the single most popular day for federal elections in the history of the Australian federation.

Federal elections were held on this day in 1949, 1955 and 1977.

All three elections held on December 10 resulted in substantial victories to the Coalition.

In 1949, Robert Menzies swept the Chifley government out after 8 years of Labor rule.

In 1955, in the aftermath of the ALP Split, Menzies called an early election and won his fourth consecutive victory.

In 1977, Malcolm Fraser won a second term in office, defeating Gough Whitlam in a near-repeat of his 1975 landslide.

December is also the single most popular month for federal elections. Twelve of the 44 federal elections since 1901 (27%) have been held in December. The last was on December 1, 1984.

Two elections have been held on December 13, in 1919 and 1975. Two elections have also been held on December 16, in 1903 and 1922. Two elections have been held on August 21, in 1943 and 2010.

More Anniversaries: Three Elections, A Floating Dollar And The Redfern Speech

Twenty-nine-years ago today, the Hawke government floated the dollar.

It was a move little understood at the time but now regarded as timely and crucial to Australia’s economic development. Whilst former prime ministers Hawke and Keating still differ over who had most influence on the decision, no-one questions its significance. [Read more…]

Saturday Trivia: December 10 Most Popular Day for Elections

Today is the anniversary of three Australian federal elections held in 1949, 1955 and 1977.

Robert MenziesDecember 10 is the single most popular day for federal elections, whilst December has been the most popular month. Twelve of the forty-three elections since Federation have been held in December: 1903, 1906, 1919, 1922, 1931, 1949, 1955, 1961, 1972, 1975, 1977 and 1984.

On December 10, 1949, Robert Menzies took the Liberal Party to its first election victory, in coalition with the Country Party. The election ushered in 23 years of continuous coalition rule, not broken until Gough Whitlam and the Labor Party won in 1972.

Menzies also won the second election to be held on December 10. In 1955, he called an early election to capitalise on the split in the ALP and won an easy victory. He was nearly defeated six years later when he held an election on December 9, 1961, but remained in office until he voluntarily retired in 1966, after 16 continuous years as prime minister.

The other December 10 election was held in 1977. Malcolm Fraser’s coalition government was resoundingly re-elected, just two years after its landslide victory in 1975.

Two days before Fraser’s re-election, Sir Zelman Cowen was sworn in as Australia’s 19th Governor-General, replacing Sir John Kerr. Sir Zelman died last Thursday night, 34 years to the day after taking up the vice-regal position.