That's the problem with First Past The Post voting systems: only the big and organised parties have a real chance.

Here in Australia we have a preferential voting system precisely so that votes don't get wasted.

We list the candidates in our preferred order, and when the votes are counted, if no candidate has 50%+, the candidate receiving the least votes is dropped from the count and their second preferences are assigned at equal value.

This continues until one candidate has more than half the votes.

In a close race, the votes of an eliminated independent or minor party candidate can make all the difference, and parties go to some trouble to court these parties.

And, believe it or not, but now and then these minor parties win seats. Usually in the Senate, where they only need 14% to win a seat, but occasionally if they outpoll one of the two big parties, then those votes come flooding towards the minor candidate and that gives them enough to take the seat. The Greens and a few others have Lower House seats, and in the Senate they form the "balance of power" and legislation can only get through by appealling to some of this scrappy grab-bag.

Britni Pepper has always enjoyed telling stories. About people, places and pleasures.

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