I’m a member of the Australian Labor Party and very interested in politics, so I’ll try field this one.
The Democrats have basically self destructed. I think that this started when Ceryl Kernot defected to the ALP and Meg Lees succeeded to the leadership. She made some bad choices in relation to the GST and eventually lost the confidence of the federal party and the party members. Natasha S-D took over and provided some spunk, but that’s about it. The federal party became disillusioned with her, Meg Lees quit the party but not the senate which pissed off a lot of people, and Andrew Murry (I think it was him) came close to doing the same. Four out of the remaining 7 (I think) Democrat senators also talked publically about splitting unless Natasha stood down and allowed them to elect a new leader. She did so, and despite being still popular with the grass roots members of the party declined to stand again.
If she had done so and won, her leadership would have been solidified, however the ‘gang of four’ would have split and the Democrats would have been consigned to political oblivion. If she had lost, then her political career would be over. By standing down she kept the party together, but all the turmoil has taken it’s toll. The rise of the Greens at around the same time (victory in the Cunningham by-election, Bob Brown being a ‘moral voice’ in the senate) provided a refuge for many of the Democrat rank and file members who were pissed off with the people they had elected to the Senate.
In my opinion, the Democrats will collapse and the Greens will rise in power, possibly enough to challenge the Labor Party to their traditional left-centre left base, especially in the upper house. Preferential voting will keep the ALP stronger in the lower house, Cunningham not withstanding. That Green victory was particular to the circumstances surrounding the by-election
The DLP is another mater entirely. I’m not too up on party history, but IIRC the reason they collapsed is related to the reason that they came into being. The unions of Australia have always been close to/part of the ALP and have a say in policy and cadnidates. In the 1920s-40s the Australian Communist Party was still quite strong, and many of it’s people had reached high positions in these unions. This meant that the Communists were able to dictate party policy to a degree. Factions of pro-Communist and anti-Communist sprung up in a bid to control the unions. In the 1950s both these factions were purged from the party, and the anti-communists split to become the DLP.
The main aim of the DLP was to keep the ALP out of power. The Australia preferential voting system allowed them to do this quite effectively. However, as time went on they got older and started dying off. In the ALP the old guard died off too, and Whitlam took over in the late 60s. By the early 70s the splits of the 50s were fading from the public memory, and the ALP was no longer associated so closely with Communism (although it did maintain some of it’s socialist roots), and the DLP was politically redundant. The 1974 double dissolution completely emptied both houses and the DLP never recovered.
I think that’s right, it’s all from memory so there might be a few things incorrect.
By the way, are you Australian or from elsewhere and interested in Australian politics?