We election enthusiasts always watch Australia with interest. Not so much the lower house, which is just the rather dull electoral system rejected comprehensively by British voters in a referendum two years ago; but the Senate, where the states each elect twelve senators, six at a time (and the territories elect two), and where each party is allowed to promise its entire chunk of transferable votes to other parties.
As with many other countries, Australian politics is getting increasingly fragmented. Although the winning coalition will hold a crushing 89 of 150 lower house seats, proportionately the most thumping victory in 30 years, this is on foot of only 45.4% of the vote, a modest gain of 1.6% from the previous election which they narrowly lost. Independents and small parties have won four seats and may narrowly miss a fifth (in the state of Victoria).
Meanwhile in the Senate, the new government is likely to win only 17 of the 40 seats up for grabs, which added to the 16 they held of the 36 not being elected this time leaves them still six short of a majority. The outgoing government will have only 25. 10 of the remainder will be held by the Greens, and the other 8 - one sitting senator, and seven of those elected today - will be from minor parties.
The most stunning results of these is in Victoria, where the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party got a mere 11,232 first preferences, 0.52% of the total vote, 0.036 of a quota, less than twelve other parties contesting the election. But they appear to have risen from 13th place to 6th, picking up crucial votes from the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party, the Shooters and Fishers Party, the Rise Up Australia Party, and on the final count the Sex Party. One of the other candidates for the Senate from Victoria was Julian Assange, who started with more than twice as many votes as the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party but proved rather less attractive for other parties' transfers (there was a little local difficulty as well).
Edited to add: nosaj kindly points out that I missed an even better one. In Western Australia, the Australian Sports Party, with 0.22% of first preferences and 21st in terms of party ranking, have actually won not the sixth seat but the fifth.
The Sydney Morning Herald's blogger, "Truthseeker", sees the result as an indictment of Australian democracy. I'm not so sure. 16.5% of Victorian voters (edited to add: in Western Australia, 24.6%) chose none of the larger parties (counting the Greens) to represent them. The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party (edited to add: and the Sports Party) look frankly a bit loony, and I imagine that Senator Ricky Muir's political career (edited to add: and Senator Wayne Dropulich's) will last roughly the six years of his mandate as a Senator. But sometimes it's healthy for mainstream politicians to be reminded that "None of the above" is a real alternative.