Victoria election 2022: Where it will be won

Monash Lens

Following weeks of media events, promises, and policy announcements, the state election campaign is coming to an end in Victoria.

  • Zareh Ghazarian

    Senior Lecturer, School of Social Sciences

On Saturday night, Victorians will know whether the Labor Party will maintain its strong position in parliament, or whether the community is in the mood for change.

What happened last time

Unlike federal elections, Victorian state elections have a fixed date, and are held every four years on the last Saturday of November. To win government, a party must win at least 45 seats in the Legislative Assembly to have a majority and form government.

At the last election in 2018, the Labor Party led by Daniel Andrews was re-elected after winning 57.3% of the two-party preferred vote. The Liberal and National party coalition, led by Matthew Guy, won just 42.7%.

This resulted in Labor winning 55 out of 88 seats in the Legislative Assembly, while the Coalition was left with 27 seats.

A major problem for the Liberal party was that it lost seats it had traditionally held in the past. These included the seats of Hawthorn and Bass.

Following the election loss, Matthew Guy was replaced by Michael O’Brien as Liberal leader. In 2021, after a series of poor opinion polls, O’Brien was replaced by Guy, who the party believed would lead it to a better outcome in 2022.

The parties and the contest

A characteristic of the Coalition’s campaign in 2018 was its focus on law and order issues. In contrast, Labor’s approach was seemingly placing healthcare and service delivery at its core. The results suggested that the Coalition’s approach did not resonate with voters.

In 2022, the Coalition has changed tack. Law and order is no longer as prominent as it was in the past. The party’s focus has been fixed on areas including education, healthcare, and public transport.

Labor has also been campaigning on these issues, as well as its commitment to build the Suburban Rail Loop. Additionally, Labor plans to bring back the State Electricity Commission in the hope it will create jobs.

The Greens have also been advancing their own agenda, which includes measures they believe would enhance integrity in parliament, reduce logging, and build more affordable housing. These have formed the core of the party’s policy wish-list in case a minority government is to be formed.

In addition to the parties, teal candidates will also be contesting the inner-urban electorates Kew, Hawthorn, and Caulfield, as well as the district of Mornington on the southeast coast of Melbourne.

The performance of the teals in these electorates may give us a hint of whether candidates supported by Climate 200 can also impact state politics to the extent they did at the national level earlier in the year.

The numbers in parliament

Since the last election, boundaries and names of many electorates have been changed as part of the routine redistribution process, which seeks to ensure there are a similar number of voters in each electorate.

As a result of this process, the Labor Party now holds 11 seats with a two-party preferred margin of 5% or less, according to Antony Green. This makes them “marginal”, as these electorates may be lost by Labor if there’s a slight swing against incumbent candidates. If Labor was to lose all 11 seats, then it would not be able to form a majority government.

The situation, however, is arguably worse for the Liberal Party, which holds 17 seats with a margin of 5% or less. In fact, the party holds just four seats with a margin of more than 5%.

The potential impact of the teals, as well as the Greens and other independents, is unclear. If elected, these MPs may be significant, especially if neither major party can form a majority, as they’ll need their support to pass laws.

Where the election will be won

The Coalition has a difficult task. It must not only reconnect with voters who abandoned it in 2018, but must also convince unaligned voters to support it now. It must also withstand the teals in traditionally safe seats.

The difficulty of the task confronting the Coalition was recently described by Liberal leader Matthew Guy as:

“… climbing Mount Everest without oxygen. And here in Victoria, Labor has been in government for 19 of the past 23 years. It’s like doing it in a blizzard all backwards.”

The trend in Victorian opinion polls has consistently shown that Labor is the favourite to win this election, and the party goes into it with a healthy majority in parliament. Barring an unexpectedly strong swing against the party that hasn’t been captured by opinion polls, Labor looks destined to retain government.

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