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Looking at the results of the Australian 2016 federal election, Liberal Party won by winning the decisive 76 seats in the House of Representatives. What I don't get is why did they win when under the party totals, Labor clearly had nearly 800,000 more votes in the party totals as compared to the Liberal National Party?

  • 1
    Is this a genuine question, or just a whinge? – Andrew Grimm Jul 25 '16 at 10:50
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    If I ever become a dictator of the world, my FIRST law would be that every country has to force every party to change names so they aren't so bloody confusing. – user4012 Jul 25 '16 at 13:17
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Looking at that link, it looks like the "coalition" of the Liberal Party includes other parties. Wikipedia says

The main members of the Coalition at the federal level are the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia. The Country Liberal Party of the Northern Territory participates through its affiliation with the Nationals (though the CLP's lone federal House member sits as a Liberal), and the Liberal National Party of Queensland participates through its affiliation with the Liberals (though some federal LNP parliamentarians sit as Nationals).

From your link (other parties ignored):

Labor Party       4,695,107
Liberals          3,876,536
Liberal Nationals 1,153,657
Nationals           624,622
Country Liberals     32,409

So yes, Labor had more votes than the actual Liberal Party by about 800,000, but the overall coalition had about a million more votes than Labor. At the top it shows this by Labor 34.7% and coalition 42.1%.

  • Correct, the LNP government is made up by Liberal party and the National party. – Thomo Jul 26 '16 at 8:48
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Regardless of the actual voting patterns in this case, any voting system in which individual members are all elected from a single geographical region, as is used in the Australian House of Representatives can easily have the party with most seats (and perhaps an overall majority/plurality) not be the party which received most votes.

To reduce this to the simplest case, consider a "country" of 30 voters, split into 3 districts, A, B, and C, with 10 voters and selecting between the silver and gold parties. If the votes are tallied as

  • A: 8 silver, 2 gold
  • B: 4 silver, 6 gold
  • C: 4 silver, 6 gold

then the gold party will hold 2 seats to silver's one, but have only received 14 votes, compared to silver's 16.

This kind of pattern can be obtained either through natural divisions with heterogeneous demographics (eg. town versus country) or by artificial "fixing" of divisions (such as gerrymandering, in which the boundaries of electoral districts are abused by the party in power, or by varying the number of electors in different districts). This leads to a concept of vote efficiency, which suggests that winning districts by a landslide is a waste of energy in obtaining which could be better used in tight contests.

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