Ce Parlement australien a l’air très européenne

I don’t know if the title is correct in French (I used Google translator) but this is what it feels like.  I haven’t written in this blog as I have been following with fascination the post-election events.

There are certain things that I like (like Association Football) where the attraction is partly because it reminds me of my childhood.  Fortunately the current Australian hung parliament and subsequent minority government is nowhere close to the multi-party fragile coalitions that characterised Italian politics in the 60’s and 70’s, but for the first time in my Australian life I am seeing a Federal government having to be formed with negotiations to arrive at a majority.

Of course this is not new in Australia. Just after Federation in 1903 no Party was able to get a majority. But normally the ‘Westmister’ system has created the ‘winner takes all’ type of governments with an opposition.  Also the preferential voting system has disadvantaged small parties to win seats.

As Oliver Marc Hartwich writes.

The most remarkable feature of Australian democracy is its party-political continuity. The combined primary vote share of the ALP and the Coalition parties was about 89 percent in the first post-war election in 1946 and it is still 82 percent today. While of course there have been great swings between the political camps, the basic dichotomy between the ALP on the one hand and the Coalition on the other remains the defining feature of Australian politics.

What it is interesting is how some of the commentariat is going ballistic about the current situation, it’s well…well….un Australian!  But as Adam Bennett wrote on the day after the election we are the exception when it comes to minority governments in the world.  Let’s grow up a bit here.

Well perhaps a bit of exotic type politics may crate some positive change. If good change is achieved, let’s hope it is not lost when inevitably we revert to majority government next election.

Anyone who has read my blog before knows that I would like Julia Gillard to form the 43rd Parliament of Australia.  But we just have to wait and see.

1 Comment

Filed under Politics and Current Affairs

One response to “Ce Parlement australien a l’air très européenne

  1. Alex

    I’m not sure how much difference the preferential system makes vs. first past the post. Assuming people all voted the same way as they did in this election under a first past the post system (i.e. no tactical voting), the following results would/may have been different:
    Banks (Sydney) won by Lib rather than ALP (he had 45.5% of the primary but lost).
    Corangamite (Geelong) Libs have 45% of primary to ALP’s 39.5% (still too close to call though).
    Deakin (Melbourne) won by Lib (42 vs. 40) rather than ALP
    Dension (Hobart) won by ALP (35.8) with Wilkie, Lib and Green on 21.3, 22.6 and 19.
    Lilley (Brisbane) won by Lib (41.2 vs. 41.1) rather than the comfortable ALP win.
    La Trobe (Melbourne) Libs (43.9-38.2) rather than ALP win
    Melbourne ALP (38.4-36.1) rather than Green’s Bandt.
    Moreton (Brisbane) Libs (43.4-36) rather than ALP
    O’Connor (WA) Libs (38.3-28.9) rather than Nat. Tuckey, you won’t be missed.
    Robertson (NSW) Libs (43.5-39.8) rather than ALP

    So, by my calculations, a first past the post system would have seen ALP keep Denison and Melbourne away from Wilkie and Bandt (can anyone say mandate? Wilkie didn’t even outpoll Libs on 1st pref.) suggesting that your theory on 1st past the post helping smaller parties is wrong.

    We would also have the Libs with another half dozen or so seats, the coalition with a clear majority of seats, Prime Minister Abbot, Brown calling for PR and student politicians theatrically posturing about how bad it is and that we have to do something (forgetting that, whether you like the result or not, that is democracy. So is the current result, mind you).

    Now, in the UK there is 1st past the post, and you are basically forced into the position where, if you don’t like the 2 leading candidates in your electorate, either throwing away your vote or voting tactically to help the lesser of two evils get elected. Give me the preferential system any day.

    As it is, the idea that the decision for who runs the country is left in the hands of Bandt, Wilkie, Windsor, Oakeshott and Katter is not one that fills me with joy. The problem is that, with the exception of Bandt, the incentive for the all the others is to make their positions safer by getting wins for their constituencies (aka pork barrelling) rather than having good Government for Australia, because they don’t need to worry about showing themselves to be responsible so that their party is electable elsewhere. This isn’t to suggest that any of them will be corrupt, just that Katter’s primary consideration is to Kennedy, not Melbourne, Menzies or McEwen.

    I wouldn’t be that upset to be back at the polls in the not too distant future (as well as having the state election).

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