This topic examines political parties, elections and voting in Australia, and analyses the nature of the Australian party and election systems. It analyses claims about a growing public cynicism toward politicians and political parties and seeks to explain why electoral support for the major parties is declining as minority parties and independent candidates appeal increasingly to voters. Specific subjects for examination include the ideological foundations and shifting values of the parties, the applicability to Australia of theories and frameworks concerned with the nature of political parties in western democracies, the study of voting behaviour, the nature of election campaigns, the study of recent elections and the role of opinion polls. Students are introduced to the national public opinion survey, the Australian Election Study series. Lectures and a number of instructional sessions in the computer laboratory will see students become adept at analysing polling data and pursuing their own lines of enquiry in consultation with the topic convenor.
This topic aims to provide a political science perspective on the Australian electoral systems, political parties, voting behaviour, and national and South Australian elections. It will introduce students to: