Where to now for the Greens?

The 2013 election outcome could only be described as mixed for the Australian Greens. The party achieved something rare among minor parties – having not only won a lower house seat at the previous election, it also successfully defended it this time around. But the jubilation of Adam Bandt’s victory in the seat of Melbourne was offset by the realisation that the party’s nationwide share of the primary vote had declined significantly. In the House of the Representatives, the Greens hemorrhaged more than a quarter of their 2010 vote; in the Senate, around a third of voters opted to move their vote elsewhere.

The outcome sparked the usual speculation about the Greens’ longevity, and grist was added to the mill when six of Christine Milne’s senior members of staff quit within weeks of the election. Importantly, the result raised the question of whether the Greens might go the same way as the now (almost) defunct Australian Democrats.

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History Won’t Repeat

The Democrats may be dead but they continue to haunt national politics, with many commentators warning the Greens are doomed to the same fate without the charismatic leadership of Bob Brown.

Much of this is based on the assumption that Christine Milne will fail to unify her party or appeal to the public.

However, commentators are overlooking significant differences between the Democrats and the Greens and the ability of the latter to better manage this leadership transition, along with Milne’s own leadership credentials.

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