The party systems of the Australian States: Patterns of partisan competition, 1945-1986

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There has been a longstanding interest in the relationship between the party system in reflecting regional diversity and maintaining the dispersal of power in federations. Given the relative scarcity of information on this question in the Australian federation, this article examines the extent to which the party systems of the Australian states differ by looking at a number of indicators summarizing patterns of partisan support in elections and legislatures over a period of forty years. Its findings demonstrate persistent differences in the structure and dynamics of the state party systems. In particular, the study shows that, in spite of the dichotomizing tendencies of a parliamentary system, electoral competition in the A ustralian states is characterized by a strong tendency to dispersed multi-partyism rather than simple bipartyism, although the individual states occupy varying positions within this range. The charting of this partisan diversity is important in questioning some of the presumptions of regional uniformity that have been applied to the study of the Australian federal system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-104
Number of pages20
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1990


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