This article lists political parties in Australia.
Australia has a mild two-party system. There are two dominant political groupings in the Australian political system, and aspects of the Australian electoral system have made it difficult for other parties or independents to gain parliamentary representation. Nevertheless, the system of preferential voting used in Australian elections, combined with proportional representation for most Upper House elections, makes it easier for minor parties and independents to gain representation in Australia than in some other two-party election systems, such as that of the United States.
In order to register as a political party applicants must have a constitution outlining the basis of the party and either at least one member in Parliament or 500 members on the electoral roll. Parties may be "deregistered" if they no longer meet these requirements.
|Name (English)||Abbr.||Leader||Ideology||Position||International organisations||Votes (2007)||Seats in House of Representatives||Seats in Senate||Notes|
|Australian Labor Party||ALP||Kevin Rudd||Social democracy||centre-left||Socialist International||43.38%||83||32|
|Liberal Party of Australia||Lib||Tony Abbott||Liberal conservatism||centre-right||International Democrat Union||36.61%||55||32||In coalition since 1944 with the National Party of Australia|
|National Party of Australia||Nat||Warren Truss||Rural conservatism||centre-right||none||5.49%||9||5||In coalition since 1944 with the Liberal Party of Australia|
|Australian Greens||GRN||Bob Brown||Green Politics||left-wing||Global Greens||7.79%||0||5|
|Family First||FF||Steve Fielding||Social conservatism||right-wing||none||1.99%||0||1|
Two political groups dominate the Australian political spectrum, forming a de facto two party system.
One is the Australian Labor Party (ALP), a centre-left party which is formally linked to the Australian labour movement. Formed in 1893, it has been a major party federally since 1901, and has been one of the two major parties since the 1910 Federal election. Currently, the ALP is in government federally, and in every state and territory except Western Australia.
The other group is a conservative grouping of parties that are in coalition at the Federal level and in New South Wales, but compete in Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. The main party in this group is the centre-right Liberal Party. The Liberal Party is the modern form of a conservative grouping that has existed since the fusion of the Protectionist Party and Free Trade Party into the Commonwealth Liberal Party in 1909. Although this group has changed its nomenclature, there has been a general continuity of MPs and structure between different forms of the party. In its modern form, it was founded by Robert Menzies in 1944. The party's philosophy is generally liberal conservatism, although it has moved rightwards since the 1980s.
Every elected Prime Minister of Australia since 1910 has been a member of either the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, or one of the Liberal Party's previous incarnations (the Commonwealth Liberal Party, the Nationalist Party of Australia, or the United Australia Party).
The Liberal Party is joined by National Party, a party that represents rural interests, especially agricultural ones. The Nationals contest a limited number of seats and does not generally directly compete with the Liberal Party. Its ideology is generally more socially-conservative than that of the Liberal Party. In 1987, the National Party made an abortive run for the Prime Ministership in its own right, in the Joh for Canberra campaign. However, it has generally not aspired to become the majority party in the coalition, and it is generally understood that the Prime Minister of Australia will be a member of either the Labor or Liberal parties. On three occasions (involving Earle Page, Arthur Fadden, and John McEwen), the leader of the National Party, then known as the Country Party, has risen to become the Prime Minister, but only for brief periods in exceptional circumstances (such as the death of the incumbent P.M. or the inability to elect a new leader of the major conservative party).
The Liberal and National parties do not exist as separate entities in Queensland and the Northern Territory. Since 1978, the Country Liberal Party, has been the single major representative of the conservative side of politics in the Northern Territory. Similarly, the Liberal National Party of Queensland was created in 2008 to merge the state branches of two political parties.
Federally, these parties are collectively known as the Coalition. The Coalition has existed continually (between the Nationals and their predecessors, and the Liberals and their predecessors) since 1923, with minor breaks in 1940, 1973, and 1987.
Historically, support for either the Coalition or the Labor Party was often viewed as being based around class, with the middle classes supporting the Coalition and the working class supporting Labor. In more recent times, this has been a less important factor because the 1970s and 1980s saw the Labor Party gain a significant bloc of middle-class support and the Coalition gain a significant bloc of working class support.
The two-party duopoly has been relatively stable, with the two groupings (Labor and Coalition) gaining at least 75% of the primary vote in every election since 1910 (including the votes of autonomous state parties). The formerly significant Australian Democrats, has been the only true "third party" to receive more than 10% of the vote for the Australian House of Representatives in a Federal election, in the 1990 Federal election. This indicates the stability of the two-party system.
There are two other parties that are of some significance in Australian political system. The Australian Greens are currently seen as the "third force" in Australian politics. It is a left wing and environmentalist party, generally achieving 7-9% of votes in elections (although they achieve significantly higher votes in some of the States). It has largely superseded the Australian Democrats, the largest minor party between 1977 and 2004. The Family First Party is a relatively recent party, with a Christian-influenced platform appealing mainly to social conservatives. They have achieved some success in recent elections, polling around 2.0% of the national vote. The proportional representation system has allowed these parties to win seats in the Senate, but they have generally been unable to win seats in the House of Representatives (the Greens won the Federal seat of the Division of Cunningham at the 2002 by-election, but lost it in 2004, and the Western Australian state seat of Fremantle at the 2009 by-election).
Other political parties which have been of some significance in the past (since World War II), in terms of shaping Australian politics, include the Democratic Labor Party, One Nation Party, Nuclear Disarmament Party, the Australia Party, the Liberal Movement, and the Communist Party of Australia.
This is a list of parliamentary representation of minor parties at the Federal and State levels:
For latest details see: http://aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/Party_Registration/Registered_parties/index.htm
These organisations are no longer registered with any federal, state or territory political bodies, and can thus no longer contest elections. A number of these may still exist as organisations in some form, but none are any longer officially recognised as political parties.