Betting on politics: elections in Australia

Australian flags © Getty images

I haven’t covered Australian politics for a while so the forthcoming election provides a good opportunity to do so. On Saturday 18 May Australia goes to the polls in a federal election that will elect a new House of Representatives and more than half the Senate.

Both the bookies and the betting exchanges expect Labor to form the next government, with Betfair offering 1.31 (76.3%) on Labor and 4.1 (24.1%) on the Coalition of centre-right parties. Bet365 is offering slightly better odds of 1/3 (75%) on Labor, though only 10/23 (30.3%) on the Coalition.

Betfair is also offering a handicap market whereby the Coalition gets awarded 25.5 extra seats. In this case, Betfair has the Coalition at 1.11 (90.9%) to come out ahead and Labor at 5.7 (17.5%) to win by 26 seats or more. Bet365 is offering a similar market with a slightly lower handicap of 22.5. In this case, it has the Coalition at 4/6 (60%) and Labor at 11/10 (47.6%) to win most seats.

Australia uses a two-stage preferential voting system, with both primary and secondary votes (which come into play if neither candidate gets a majority of votes in the first round). At one stage Labor had a lead of around 8% in the second preference vote. This has narrowed over the past few weeks to the point where some polls have the gap as low as 2%. I’d therefore suggest that you make two separate bets on the Coalition beating both the 25.5- and the 22.5-seat handicap.