Are the Democrats dying or is it just a flesh wound?
Political parties with more than 500 members include the Australian Sex Party, the HEMP Party, the Shooters and Fishers Party, and the Communists.
Family First could probably muster 500 members from a single mega-church.
But the Australian Democrats, once the third force in Australian politics, are being threatened with deregistration because the Australian Electoral Commission says its national membership has fallen below the 500 threshold.
How does this happen? How did they go from having the popular Don Chipp with his catchy ‘keep the bastards honest’ refrain, to having the balance of power in the Senate, to reaching what Bob Hawke called their “death throes” in 2006, to being threatened with deregistration?
The obvious answer is the GST and internal politics – former national leader Meg Lees said the community “lost confidence” in the party. Many have probably switched allegiance to the Greens.
But to drop below the 500 threshold is still a staggering tumble.
Despite the haemorrhaging of votes and the woeful membership figures, they’re still threatening to bite off the legs of the major parties.
Their website proudly declares it’s “time to bring back the Democrats”. National President Darren Churchill told The Australian a couple of weeks ago that people are getting in touch and telling them they want the Democrats to make a comeback – he said Labor’s internal divisions had put them back in the picture.
He also says the party’s membership is “well over 500” (the AEC says they provided a list of 550 but they are not satisfied with it) and the quibble over numbers is “just a formality”.
At the 2010 election they got just 0.63 per cent of first preferences in the Senate.
“We will be working to again get the voice of reason back into Parliament,” Mr Churchill said.
South Australian Democrat Sandra Kanck said: “We are not dead yet.”
So what are they going to do, bleed on them?
Is there anything they could do, Punchers, to get you back on board? Or were you never there in the first place?
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