By ASHLEIGH BAGSHAW
The introduction of Nick Xenophon’s SA Best Party has created controversy in this year’s state election, with serious concerns being raised about the newcomer’s impact on the chances of minority parties.
One party who may feel the impact most strongly is Kelly Vincent’s Dignity Party.
The Dignity Party, which was first established in 2010, aims to represent individuals with disabilities and raise awareness of the issues these individuals face in the general community.
However, the Dignity Party may be at risk of losing seats to SA Best.
“I think this is certainly an interesting election and I think it’s a very crowded one,” Ms Vincent said.
“Obviously there’s lots of voices out there and that presents certain challenges, particularly for the small parties who are trying to be heard amongst some of the parties who might have more capability to get more media or produce more material.”
However, Dr Brad West, a sociology lecturer and political expert from the University of South Australia, said the impact of SA Best on the chances of minority parties will be small.
“SA Best is much more likely to take away votes from the major political parties than traditional minority parties,” Dr West said.
“There has been an increase in voting for minority parties with primary support for the two major parties failing in recent years and this does reflect a disillusionment with the institutional politics more broadly.”
Dr West also says that minority parties receive considerable attention in the mainstream media, despite the fact they only represent the views of a small proportion of the population.
“At times, minority parties receive a disproportionate amount of media attention, in part as they provide a lens through which we can reflect on mainstream politics and its failings.
“But ultimately no minority party has been able to successfully gain a steady foothold on the political landscape over subsequent elections because they only reflect minority or political extreme interests.”
Regardless of what impact SA Best has on Saturday’s election, Ms Vincent said she remained committed to representing the views of those who are neglected by the major parties.
“For my part, I’m focusing on working very hard like I have every day for the last eight years on listening and responding to the needs of all South Australians, including our focus on those people who other parties have by and large forgotten,” she said.
“I hope that the hard work and the values that the Dignity Party have put forward will be reflected on March 17th.”
“The Dignity Party has a proud record of fighting for and achieving great results for many people who have been forgotten, and I believe we still have a lot more to contribute.”