The reasons why people vote as they do are many and varied. A person's choice of political party can depend on their occupation, upbringing, environment, religion or education - in short, which social class they belong to.
As McAllister states, the modern way of life has brought with it the notion of voting according to class. "Class has formed the basis for party political divisions for most of the twentieth century. Since the industrial revolution, occupational class has been the most ubiquitous of social divisions." (1992, p. 152).
The two major Australian political parties - Labor, and the Liberal/Nationals Coalition - have been dividing votes for most of the twentieth century, and into the twenty-first century.
That these cleavages brought about by class continue to be salient to today's voting habits is mentioned by Aitken:
The most important cleavages in Australian society, which
are relatively abiding...are simple economic: the haves versus
the have-nots, which has produced the Labor and Liberal parties;
and regional/economic: the country versus the city, which has
produced the National Party."
The Australian Labor Party was formed by unions of workers affected by the economic depression of the early 1890s. After striking for better pay and conditions failed, union representatives decided that the best way to serve the workers' interests would be to do so in parliament. Imbued with socialist ideals, Labor has from the beginning appealed to the working class, or 'have-nots'.
The 'haves', meanwhile, can be broadly said to be attracted to the Liberal Party. The Liberals have always been a party of coalition, having its roots in the fusion government of 1909, led by Alfred Deakin. What we recognise as the Liberal Party of today was formed by Robert Menzies in 1944. From the start, the Liberals have been against socialism, which...