Electoral Malapportionment: Partisanship, Rhetoric and Reform in the Shadow of the Agrarian Strong-Man

29 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2010 Last revised: 21 Apr 2010

Graeme D. Orr

The University of Queensland - T.C. Beirne School of Law

Ron Levy

Australian National University

Date Written: March 28, 2010

Abstract

This article revisits the zonal malapportionment endemic in Queensland’s electoral system before the Fitzgerald Inquiry and examines how reform was won. The process is found to be one of liberalising but not ground-breaking catch-up. Viewing Queensland’s zonal system in the larger perspective of manipulation of electoral maps, this article compares Premier Bjelke-Petersen with populist strongmen in South Australia (Playford) and Québec (Duplessis), who employed similar rhetoric to entrench themselves. Ultimately, as others had, Queensland’s agrarian chauvinism proved long-running but brittle. The Queensland example is intriguing for the paradoxes it presented. An important rhetorical component of it was the signalling of anti-democratic values inherent in the zonal system. The electoral manipulations merged pretence with openness. The pointed rejection of democratic pluralism married with the projection of an image of leadership by right. Bjelke-Petersen was proud to govern over, rather than through, democracy.

Suggested Citation

Orr, Graeme D. and Levy, Ron, Electoral Malapportionment: Partisanship, Rhetoric and Reform in the Shadow of the Agrarian Strong-Man (March 28, 2010). Griffith Law Review, Vol. 18, pp. 638-665, 2009; University of Queensland TC Beirne School of Law Research Paper No. 10-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1579826

Graeme Orr (Contact Author)

The University of Queensland - T.C. Beirne School of Law ( email )

The University of Queensland
St Lucia
4072 Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Ron Levy

Australian National University ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

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