Malcolm Turnbull’s “We have won the election” may have missed the point

What Malcolm Turnbull should have said is “We will have enough seats in the lower house to form government.”

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Will  Malcolm Turnbull suffer death by opinion poll as Tony Abbott did?

When Julie Bishop was interviewed by Leigh Sales on 7.30, Sales asked her what the government had learned from the election and Bishop replied that the government needed to listen to the people. She then proceeded to explain in considerable detail how people were not listening to the government.

And indeed Turnbull’s statement indicates that he has learned nothing from the election result.  Certainly not about listening.

But there are some important lessons to be learned and unless he understands them, his prime ministership is likely to be short lived. The most important thing he has to understand is the basis of his political power.

The reason that the result of the election was not known for so all was that the results in a number of seats were extremely close and was ultimately decided on preferences. In fact, the government has retained power because it has won enough seats on preferences. Not in its own right. It’s a subtle distinction but one that Turnbull needs to understand.

So there are some things Malcolm Turnbull should consider about the election result.

He now holds power with a number of seats that will have margins of less than 1%. He holds these seats on preferences. That is, on the votes of people who chose him as their second choice. They didn’t vote for Labor, not this time. But they may well change their mind at the next election.  And it won’t take many of them to change the government

And he can be certain that if they didn’t give him their first preference, they were probably not particularly impressed with the Coalition policies from the  previous Abbott/Turnbull administration. So charging ahead with the old policies on the assumption that the result in lower house represents an unambiguous mandate would be a mistake.

Political opinion and sentiment is likely to be highly volatile for the foreseeable future and Malcolm Turnbull could see what little political capital he has left evaporate very quickly.

He deposed Tony Abbott on the strength of the series of negative opinion polls and with the wafer thin margins in key seats, Turnbull will have little margin for error.

I’m not certain whether this particular graphic originated but if it is in anyway accurate, it gives an idea of how delicate the political situation is in Australia.

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Keep in mind that 25% of the electorate did not vote for either of these two major parties. At present, it would appear that that 25% is pretty much evenly spread between the two of them but it wouldn’t take much of a shift either way to change the situation completely.

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