I’m one of those swinging voters who cop so much flak for being selfish, apathetic, ill-informed and so on. In quite a few elections, I haven’t finally made up my mind until I was inside the polling booth. Admittedly, I’ve usually been pretty sure about the order in which I would put the major parties, so changes in my first preference haven’t made any real difference to the outcome. But then, most of the time, I’ve lived in seats that have been fairly safe, one way or the other, so my vote has been essentially expressive.
This time, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and make a decision ahead of polling day. The decision is a significant departure for me. For the first time in a Federal election since the 1980s, I’ll be giving Labor my first preference vote. I haven’t been satisfied with everything Latham has done as leader, but this is the first time in more than a decade that I haven’t felt that Labor is merely the lesser of two evils. Given that the Greens are obviously going to do well anyway, I’m happy to vote Labor.
In view of the generally disappointing poll results over the weekend, I’m less optimistic than I was last week, but Labor’s chances are still close to 50-50. And regardless of the electoral outcome, there’s no doubt that the election marks the end of economic rationalism/neoliberalism as the dominant force in Australian politics. The tide has been running against economic rationalism ever since ‘the recession we had to have’. But Howard’s explicit repudiation of this ideology is as clear an endpoint as we’re ever likely to see.
fn1. I’ve occasionally supported the Democrats in the past, but there’s no point in considering them any more.