Stability and Change in Greens Party Support

Stability and Change in Greens Party Support

Political scientists have long been aware that, while they are young, individuals develop political party affiliations that very often resemble those of their parents. While not a direct hand-me-down from parents to children, this tendency to ‘inherit’ party affiliation is well-established for the two major Australian political parties.

However, the Australian Greens only formed as a national party in 1992, meaning that members of the Our Lives cohort are some the first young Australians able to ‘inherit’ Greens party identity from their parents.


Using Our Lives data spanning across 5 years, Bruce Tranter and Jonathan Smith set out to examine whether Greens party affiliations is indeed being transferred across generations in a similar fashion to the major parties. They found that parental political affiliation (particularly mother’s affiliation) strongly influences young people’s initial support for the Greens, much as it does for the major parties. However, they also found that Greens identifiers appear less likely than major party identifiers to show stable party allegiances over time. In particular, there was high level of fluidity between Greens and Labor affiliations, and Greens identifiers tended to vote strategically for Labor or the Greens depending on broader electoral circumstances.


The comparatively recent formation of the Australian Greens may account for the relative instability of Greens identity over time. Nevertheless, inter-generational transmission of Greens identity should translate into a relatively stable electoral base for the Greens, meaning that they are likely to maintain an influential presence in Australian federal politics.


These findings are soon to be published in the journal Environmental Politics.