University Of Tasmania
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Structure and ideology in the Tasmanian Labor Party: Postmaterialism and party change

posted on 2023-05-26, 02:52 authored by Patmore, PJ
The Tasmanian Labor Party has found itself, like many western social democratic parties, recently subject to challenge; not from its traditional enemy, the economic right, but from a new postmaterialist left. This thesis considers the concept of postmaterialism, its rise and role in the formation of new ecocentric political parties, and its impact on the structure, ideology and electoral strategy of the Tasmanian Labor Party. Maurice Duverger's typology of political parties has been used to elucidate and consider the characteristics and formation of political parties and the importance of electoral systems - particularly proportional representation - in achieving representational success. This typology, coupled with Ronald Inglehart's concept of postmaterialism shows how a conflict of values and a new ecocentric ideology has given rise to new environmental movements and green political parties. This thesis finds that, in a Tasmanian context, both the Labor Party's history and the impact of Tasmania's peculiar electoral system contributed to the emergence of environmental parties in Tasmania. Further, it finds that the strength of their emergence and the significance of post materialism's ecocentric ideology necessitated a serious response from Tasmanian Labor. National and Labor Party surveys, confirmed the existence and persistence of postmaterialism - both in the broader Tasmanian community and the Tasmanian ALP. As a result of this research, it is argued that some options in meeting the postmaterialist challenge could not be utilised by the Tasmanian Labor Party. Major structural reform would not be effective and ideological renewal would have only limited effect. Thus, the Party has pursued a strategy of retaining party unity while attempting to attract sufficient postmaterialist support to gain majority government.


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