The ‘populist’ right and the regions
The ‘populist’ right and the regions

The federal election results suggests that, while no candidates from the far right were elected to lower house seats, they did influence the result in some areas. It is too early to say what will happen in the Senate.

Leader of the “pack” One Nation did the best overall. Thirteen of the 15 seats in which it scored greater than 10 percent were in Queensland. Its highest vote was in the NSW seat of Hunter. There is evidence that a scare campaign was waged about an incoming ALP government ending coal mining.

The better performing areas for One Nation were regional, although there was some creep into outer Brisbane.

The same can largely be said of outfits such as Bob Katter’s Australian Party and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party. The former was almost completely confined to regional Queensland, Katter winning on 39 percent of the primary vote in Kennedy and getting results above 5 percent in four other seats.

Palmer’s big spending campaign had additional impacts, with some higher votes in suburban Melbourne (Fraser and Gellibrand). He attracted (funded?) candidates from some ethnic minority groups and thereby distanced his populist message from the anti-immigration stance of his rivals on the right.

Fraser Anning’s National Conservative Party fortunately sank largely without trace. Its higher votes were mostly in regional Queensland, although it scored above 1.5 percent in some outer suburban seats such as Calwell and Bruce in Victoria.

There is evidence that One Nation’s coal industry scare tactic was used outside of Hunter, mostly in Queensland. In an election in which few seats changed hands, Herbert, located around Townsville, was one notable case of the Liberal National Party taking a regional seat from the ALP: a combined far right and right populist primary vote of 27 percent translated into an almost 8 percent swing to the LNP.

Across the country there was a strong correlation between the size of the far right vote and the swing to the Coalition.

While the populist element no doubt attracted some support from workers, this was far less common in urban working class areas. Although there were some disturbing votes for the far right in outer southern Brisbane, the ALP held its base.

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