The Australian Labor Party: In Comparative Decline or Renewal?

Dr. Rob Manwaring

This paper seeks to contextualise the role, impact and performance of the Australian Labor party (ALP), by situating it within the wider family of social democratic and labour parties. The paper will compare the ALP against its mainstream centre-left competitors on a range of indicators and factors, and by doing so will shed light on the current issues and dilemmas facing the ALP. The paper will comparatively evaluate the electoral performance of the ALP, and seek to show how successful it has been throughout its history. Using the Comparative Manifesto Database, the paper will also critically examine and compare the policy platform of the ALP, and locate it within the wider social democratic family. It is not clear, fro example, if the current ALP is more or less left wing than its international sister parties. The ALP is usually studied within the context of the Australian party system, and this can sometimes be a limiting prism to understand the dynamics and changes within the ALP. Overall, the paper will seek to evaluate the role, impact and performance of the ALP in the broader social democratic family.