Australians feel political parties are poor at producing capable leaders and stable Government

Australia’s political parties are poor at producing capable leaders and stable Government, creating policy ideas that are in Australia’s long term interests and communicating how they will solve issues important to voters, the results of an Ipsos survey into political leadership in Australia.

Australians feel political parties are poor at producing capable leaders and stable Government

More than half of Australian voters (53%) believe that political parties are bad at providing capable politicians to run the country; only 17% thought political parties were good at this. In addition, 57% said political parties were bad at providing Australia with a stable Government, and only 17% said they were good at this.

When it came to telling voters about the issues voters feel are most important in Australia and how they will work to solve them, 41% said political parties were bad at this and 26% said good.

A total of 44% of voters felt that political parties were bad at creating policy ideas that are in the long-term interests of Australia as a whole and 23% felt they were good at this.

The findings from the Australian study were comparable to those from Ipsos’s recent UK study, with similar proportions both positive and negative in relation to parties telling voters about issues, and creating policy ideas that benefit the country long-term.  However, when it came to considering whether the parties provide capable leaders to run the country, and offer stable government, Australians are noticeably more critical.

When thinking about how the parties ‘provide Australia with a stable government’, the balance of opinion (those saying ‘good’ minus those saying ‘bad’) was -40 in Australia.  In contrast, the British were less critical, with a balance of opinion of -20.  Notably the Australian interviewing was undertaken in the month following Malcolm Turnbull’s removal from office and Scott Morrison’s appointment as Prime Minister.

Similarly, when thinking about how the parties ‘provide capable politicians to run the country’ we are also more critical than in the UK.  In Australia the balance of opinion was -36, in contrast the figure for the UK was -25.

Commenting on the findings, Jessica Elgood, Director, Ipsos Social Research Institute – NSW, said:  This latest Ipsos survey shows that while the majority of Australians have an interest in politics, they think our system of government could be improved.  There is frustration with the capabilities of the politicians put forward by our political parties, and they are critical of the lack of stability due to the parties’ repeated removal of Prime Ministers before their term in office is finished.”

Why do we vote for the parties we choose?

When asked to consider the most important reasons for deciding to vote for a particular political party, the top answers given are:

  • 39%, that ‘it represents the interests of people like me’
  • 39%, that ‘it has policies I fully support’
  • 38%, that ‘it takes on board the views of the public’, and
  • 34% ‘it is the most competent’

Interest in politics

The majority (59%) of Australians describe themselves as ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ interested in politics; the same proportion as the UK (58%).

  • Men are significantly more likely than women to say they are interested in politics (69% interested, compared to only 49% of women who describe themselves as interested).
  • Our interest in politics seems to grow as we age.  Among those aged under 30, 48% are interested in politics, 52% of those aged 30 to 49 are interested, increasing to 71% among those aged 50+.

How do we view our current system of Government?

We are divided in how effectively we think the Australian system of government works.  Three in ten think is works well (2% say it ‘works extremely well and could not be improved’ and a further 29% say ‘it could be improved in small ways but mainly works well’), but the majority think it is in need of improvement (36% say ‘it could be improved quite a lot’ and 29% say it ‘needs a great deal of improvement’).

These views are almost identical to those expressed in a recent UK study (2% ‘works extremely well’, 27% ‘could be improved in small ways’, 38% ‘could be improved quite a lot’ and 29% ‘needs a great deal of improvement’).