The Australian Democrats is a centrist political party in Australia. Founded in 1977 from a merger of the Australia Party and the New Liberal Movement, both of which were descended from Liberal Party splinter group, it was Australia's largest minor party from its formation in 1977 through to 2004 and frequently held the balance of power in the Senate during that time. The party's inaugural leader was Don Chipp, a former Liberal cabinet minister, who famously promised to "keep the bastards honest". At the 1977 federal election, the Democrats polled 11.1 percent of the Senate vote and secured two seats. The party would retain a presence in the Senate for the next 30 years, at its peak (between 1999 and 2002) holding nine out of 76 seats, though never securing a seat in the lower house. The party's share of the vote collapsed at the 2004 election and was further diminished in 2007 with the last senators leaving office in 2008. Due to the party's numbers in the Senate, both Liberal and Labor governments required the assistance of the Democrats to pass contentious legislation, most notably in the case of the Howard Government's goods and services tax (GST). Ideologically, the Democrats were usually regarded as centrists, occupying the political middle ground between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. The party was formally deregistered in 2016 for not having the required 500 members. In 2018 the Australian Democrats merged with Country Minded—an Australian political party seeking accountable regional and agricultural representation. On 7 April 2019 the Australian Democrats regained registration as a political party with the Australian Electoral Commission. The party plans to run candidates in the 2019 federal election and campaign on energy, climate and political accountability.
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