If May’s biggest political surprise was the new ruler of Westeros on “Game of Thrones,” the result in Australia’s national election were a close runner-up.
For weeks, opinion polls had predicted that the Labor Party would defeat the conservative Coalition led by the Liberal Party. But, just as with Brexit and with President Trump’s victory, the “experts” were wrong. Voters returned Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government. Morrison promised strict controls on immigration, and economic stability through creating jobs and cutting taxes. He questioned whether Labor’s climate change policies and plans for higher taxes on the wealthy would slow three decades of economic growth.
Morrison earned his victory. Australia has the high voter turnout that comes with compulsory voting and the majority wins that come with ranked choice voting (RCV).
Australia has used RCV for more than a century. Voters rank the candidates in order of preference. It takes 50 percent of votes, plus one, to win a House seat. If no candidate wins a majority with first choice support alone, candidates with the fewest votes get dropped and their votes count for their next ranked choices. You rinse and repeat until someone wins a majority, mimicking an “instant runoff.” Despite an average of nearly seven candidates per House race, RCV in Australia elects a majority winner every time.