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Instant Runoff Voting Tests Well Nationally: Australia's Latest Election

Kevin RuddOn November 24th, Australia elected its House of Representatives with instant runoff voting (IRV), as it has for more than eight decades. After four straight election defeats, the Labor Party won a landslide majority of seats. Under IRV, Labor's initial 44% of first choices turned into a clear majority after considering the choices of supporters of third party candidates with too little support to win seats. The Green Party's 8% share of the national vote largely went to Labor in House races; that share earned several senate seats elected by proportional voting. Due in large part to compulsory voting, turnout was well over 90%; Australians rank near the top of national comparisons of voter satisfaction with their government.

Earlier this year, neighboring nation Papua New Guinea instituted IRV for its national elections. With a history of large fields of candidates, fractious races and ethnic/family feuds played out in violent terms, Papua New Guinea adopted IRV to promote more peaceful politics by having winners who could reach beyond their base. Observers widely hailed IRV's impact, with a large drop in political violence and more winners having substantial shares of the vote.

[Australian Electoral Commission - IRV Site]
[E.J. Dionne Column on Australian Election]
[AFP Wire Story Commenting on Green Party Election Influence]
[Information on IRV in the United States - instantrunoff.com]
[Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission - IRV Site]
[Papua New Guinea Article on 2007 Elections]