In a piece for The Conversation, Travers McLeod, CEO of the Centre for Policy Development, joins Mark Triffit, a Melbourne University Public Policy lecturer, in suggesting that the rise of micro-parties reveals a political system increasingly unfit for purpose.
‘In a 21st-century internet-driven, globalised world, the array of political choices and identities available to voters are increasing and fragmenting,’ McLeod and Triffit observe in the article, which was also picked up by BusinessSpectator. ‘This reflects broader changes in a society in which choices – political, social or economic – are influenced by a widening collection of complex factors.’
Major parties are struggling to develop coherent narratives; while micro-parties gain from such ‘voter fragmentation‘. ‘With their single or limited issues campaigns [micro-parties] can cut through the political noise with more succinct appeals and arguments. They offer retail politics in a wholesale world.’ Micro-parties, rather than being an ‘unwelcome intrusion’, are in fact emblematic of ‘the way the 21st-century political world is being restructured’.
Current democratic systems are predicated on several organising principles that may no longer apply: functional majorities; efficient decision-making processes; and control over territorially constrained issues.
The piece suggests it is time to think about deeper reforms to our democracy, including the structure and function of political parties; the nature of electoral systems; and developing institutional changes that can steer good policy over the long term.