Independent politician

An independent or nonpartisan politician is a politician not affiliated with any political party. There are numerous reasons why someone may stand for office as an independent.

  • Independents may support policies which are different from those of the major political parties.
  • Independents may support a party's platform, but choose to stand as an independent because they don't feel the party adequately follows their platform.
  • In some parts of the world, electors may have a tradition of electing independents, so standing for a political party is a disadvantage.
  • In some countries (such as Russia), a political party can only be registered if it has many members in more than one region, but in certain regions only a minority of electors support the major parties.
  • In some countries (such as Kuwait), political parties are illegal and all candidates thus stand as independents.[1]
  • In some countries where politics are otherwise traditionally partisan, such as the United States, subnational bodies and offices such as the Nebraska State Legislature and various directly-elected judicial and executive positions are nonpartisan and require politicians to abstain from running for office as part of a political party, even if they may be a member of one.
  • In some countries where politics is otherwise traditionally partisan, such as Mongolia, the incumbent President must always be an independent and cannot run for reelection as a member of a political party.

Some independent politicians may be associated with a political party, perhaps as former members of it, or else have views that align with it, but choose not to stand in its name, or are unable to do so because the party in question has selected another candidate. Others may belong to or support a political party at the national level but believe they should not formally represent it (and thus be subject to its policies) at another level.

In running for public office, independents sometimes choose to form a party or alliance with other independents, and may formally register their party or alliance. Even where the word "independent" is used, such alliances have much in common with a political party, especially if there is an organization which needs to approve the "independent" candidates.

Australia

Independents are a recurrent feature of the federal Parliament of Australia, and they are more commonly elected to state parliaments. There have been up to five independents in every federal parliament since 1990, and independents have won twenty-eight times during national elections in that time. A large proportion of independents are former members of one of Australia's four main parties, the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party of Australia, the Australian Greens, or the National Party of Australia. In 2013 a political party named the Australian Independents was registered with the Australian Electoral Commission.[2]

At the dissolution of parliament before the 2019 federal election, four independents sat in the Australian House of Representatives: Andrew Wilkie (Member for Denison), Cathy McGowan (Member for Indi), Kerryn Phelps (Member for Wentworth), and Julia Banks (Member for Chisholm). Of these, Wilkie had previously been a Greens candidate, McGowan had been a Liberal staffer, and Banks was elected as a Liberal MP before resigning from the party in November 2018. At the 2019 election, Wilkie was re-elected as the Member for Clark, while McGowan retired, and both Phelps and Banks lost their seats. However, two new independents entered parliament: Zali Steggall (Member for Warringah) and Helen Haines (Member for Indi).

Independent Senators are quite rare. In modern politics, independent Brian Harradine served from 1975 to 2005 with considerable influence at times. Nick Xenophon has been the only elected independent Senator since his election to the Senate at the 2007 federal election. Xenophon was re-elected for another six-year term at the 2013 federal election.[3] DLP Senator John Madigan became an independent Senator in September 2014,[4] while PUP Senators Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus became independent Senators in November 2014 and March 2015.[5][6]