Sunday, August 22, 2010

Election 2010, final thoughts until the actual result

And so, after an election in which we often heard about the unfairness of a Prime Minister being chosen by backroom deals rather than the majority of the Australian people, the election itself has not produced a government chosen by a majority of the Australian people, but chosen by whoever manages to offer the sweetest deal to the independent and Green members who hold the balance of power in the House of Representatives.

I'm greatly tempted to just ignore all Australian political coverage for the next few days, since I can pretty much guarantee that most of it will be a lot of bluster and trash talk about why one party should gain the support of the minor members and why the other party shouldn't get it under any circumstances, with little actual substance behind them. A few final comments for this election, then, before I switch off until we actually have a result...

I can hear the echoes of British and American elections gone by in this Australian election. The UK 2010 election was described to by me as one person that it showed that the UK public wanted Labour out, but didn't want the Tories in. I think a similar result can be read here: The Australian Labor party was voted out, but the public has not voted the coalition in. I am reminded also of the pain that occurred when the split between Bush and Gore in 2000 resulted in a victory for Bush by judicial ruling, which I suspect has greatly contributed to the hyperpartisanship in that country which persists even 10 years later. I doubt the result here will be decided upon by a judge, but I suspect the process of forming a minority government will be messy enough that some people will be sore enough to consider the declared winner illegitimate.

But in any case, there is no way that the government - whoever that may be - will be able to have things all their own way the way Bush and the Republicans managed it during their run. Even if the minors in the House of Representatives don't keep the minority goverenment accountable, come July 1st 2011, the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate. Issues-wise, that's probably the most interesting thing that's happened in what has been, issues-wise, an extremely uninteresting election. The implications of this have yet to be felt, by I expect them to be quite far-reaching when they finally do become clear.

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