Relations with Minor Parties

Redditors: calm at least half of your farm. This is merely a discussion topic. There is currently no intention or agitation towards merging or affiliating with any other organisations whatsoever.

We are holding a strategy meeting on Wednesday January 13 8:30pm AEDST in IRC. This is one of the topics we will be discussing. I put this together to be a discussion starter.

Last year the Alliance for Progress was formed. It is an alliance of progressive small Parties to enable work on different projects and to help negotiate preference deals. Through this process we are in regular contact with other Parties’ who often have agendas close to our own.

A couple of NC members have discussed trying to absorb smaller Parties in the Alliance. This has been one of the more controversial discussions the NC has had so far this term. We have also been approached informally by the Progressive Party to discuss the possibility of merging, particularly should voting ‘reforms’ make it even harder for small Parties to get into Parliament.

We have never discussed merging or absorbing smaller Parties and if the discussions in the NC are anything to go by, it is a controversial topic, hence this topic being put to members in our strategy meeting. There is a lot of difference between absorbing smaller Parties and merging, so it is probably best to treat the topics separately.

The biggest benefit for our organisation is having more activists involved, which will mean more work can be done. We will also have less competition from similar Parties which will boost our primary votes.

Based on discussions I have had with various members, I will outline what I personally think below:

Absorbing smaller Parties

Essentially I think this should be a process of discussion about whether their agendas and organising principles would fit in with our own. If it all seems to measure up, they join the Party and propose policies they want us to support at the next Congress. This should be in conjunction with the PDC so the policies fit with our policy style. It also ensures the policies are well thought through and backed up by evidence.

Merging with similar Parties

When this was raised by the Progressive Party I said ‘if we can keep our platform and Constitution we would think about it’. Others are more concerned about keeping the name. For me, the content of what we have built is even better than the name (I like the name). Organisationally, the red-lines for me are:

Our core policies around civil liberties, copyright and patents and Internet freedoms must be an integral part of any merged Party.

We must have direct democracy when it comes to policy and organisational decisions. All members must have access to propose policies, discuss issues and vote. Delegated voting, such as practiced by the ALP creates layers between members and decisions which makes it easier for dodgy deals to be done against the wishes of the membership.

The Party must practice transparency. Members need to be able to see decisions being made and how each decision was reached. This ensures confidence that the organisation is acting in the best interests of the membership and divisions between members and leadership don’t develop.

Policy must be developed transparently with open participation. Policies should be based on principles and informed by evidence. Too many Parties build policies on ideology with little or no reference to what works to solve problems. We have worked hard to ensure our policies are grounded in reality and consequently, we clearly have the best policy set of any Party in Australia.

The positions I have outlined above are my own thinking, I don’t expect people to agree. I just thought it would be useful to put some sort of framework in place so people had something to criticise.


Minor parties have a problem in that they are all trying to compete with each other for the scraps left after the the major parties (ALP+LNP+GRN) take their quota.

Most minor parties have their own niche, and the more organised ones try to have policies in other areas as well. The election strategy for minor parties is usually to appeal to this very narrow demographic of voters where their probably isnt much competition with other minor parties, and then try and compete with each to get better preference deals.

I think there is a lot of scope for co-operation on policy work done between minor parties, policy development is very hard to do properly, there is so much more work that could be done;

  • Reviewing proposed polices from other parties.
  • Adding details, or reviewing our own policies,
  • Reviewing policies that have been implemented in other countries.
    It would be interesting to see if this alliance for progress could work together on policy development, or to develop a core set of principles or core set of policies. Parties could then choose which issues they are going to ‘go with the pack’, and which issues they will stand alone on.

If absorbing or merging with other parties is being considered (and it should be an ongoing consideration for all minor parties IMO), then the parties involved really need to articulate as best they can what they stand for as a first step.

Our name serves to distinguish ourselves and define our niche, but it isnt going to help us appeal to “normal” people, we are in a similar situation to the sex party, they are good names for minor parties, but not for mainstream parties. And i assume mergers is about trying to be more mainstream.

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Adding a note in case anyone goes off on a misguided rant: the National Council does not have the power to merge with other parties, so any discussion within the NC cannot be acted upon without a vote of all members of the Pirate Party.


preface: I probably won’t be able to make IRC, and Discourse is better for long-form and archival anyway. I also agree with pretty much everything @bug1 has said thus far.

Over the medium term of the next few electoral cycles I think a progressive-microparty merger is fairly likely - be it formal or simply people flocking to one. This is an electoral reality given the impending Senate rule changes - whatever they may be, we know they’ll be trying to screw over micros.

Regarding the Progressives specifically: Long term it seems pretty obvious that they want to be the progressive-left party, starting with the other micros and eventually eating the Greens too. The Progs seem to have just finished working through most of their founder-politics woes, so we’ll see what happens to them over the course of the year. In particular, as they fight their first Senate election, we’ll learn for sure whether their organisational culture is compatible with ours.

I have some timing concerns: this year’s focus needs to be squarely on the Federal election. I hope we can come to a consensus on this issue (or at least a small set of defined positions) by the end of February or so… and then shut up about it until after the election. This topic has the potential to be a huge and ongoing attention sponge. Further, it has the potential to split the party - the last thing we need in an election year.

tl;dr: hold off decisions until Congress 2017.

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I will only support a merger with the People’s Front of Judea, not the Judean People’s Front. Fuck those guys.


It would take over a year to negotiate I suspect, if we go down that route.

I thought it was best to start the discussion now because it has come up repeatedly and we have never discussed it as a Party. Better to put all the cards on the table and see what everyone thinks than to shut down the discussions and do nothing about it.

The only timing pressure is the distinct possibility that the electoral laws will change tilting the game further in favour of the major parties (including the Greens). Having an idea what members think before that happens means we can answer with some authority rather than either having a rushed conversation at that time or refusing every offer of talks out of hand.

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Even if it turns out that the PPAU members decide the way forward is to tell potential merger partners that “no way guys, we are our own unit and never a merger will be” then that is fine by me.

The issue as I see it is partially this: we have relations and lines of communication with other parties (some of whome share some significant common ground).
The issue of mergers can get raised in dealings with those parties.
As an open, transparent, democratic party, we need this discussion internally, so that we have a possible answer and direction to go when and if the issue comes up.
Part of why this issue comes up, when talking with other parties, is that there are possible electoral reforms that could be floated by the major parties that could make a lot of minor parties essentially unviable.
We need to be prepared for that eventuality… if our plan of action for that eventuality is to buckle down, retain our brand as is, and attempt to power through alone, so be it. If the plan of action is to have some sort of system or consensus to at least consider mergers or absorbtions should the conditions dictate, they so be it also. Either way, the discussion of the idea needs to happen within our party so that should the issue arise, we as a party have an idea of what we want to do in such circumstances.

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Here are the minutes from last Wednesday’s strategy meeting. The first half covers this issue.


Is there any review of other parties policies happening now? Are the Sex Party policies high on the list?

Feel free to start a discussion topic on other Parties policies. We will need to go compile info for members to use when voting for our preference flows.

The preference flow for the 2013 election can be found here:

There will be some changes based on those who reneged on deals in the past, who has been de-registered etc.

There will be some tough decisions to make this year with the strong likelihood that we will only preference 6 Parties. Do we preference minors then Greens 5 ALP 6? Greens in at 2? Not preference the ALP at all? We will have to see how everyone votes.

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