Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hung parliament and other double-entendres

So Australia voted in the Federal Election. If you're reading this from elsewhere and are not familiar with the events leading up to it, this quirky Taiwanese animation will sum it all up for you in under 2 minutes. I'm not sure how Taiwanese computer geeks are able to succinctly analyse everything so much better than any Australian news service.

Anyway, so we had the election and the result was... um, no, there wasn't one. We are now in the unfamiliar position of having a hung parliament, meaning that neither major party had enough votes to govern on their own and now must negotiate with independents and the Greens.

So how is this parliament hung? Is it related to donkey voters, or dissatisfaction with standing members? Given Rudd's hard dictatorial approach to government, was it right to give him the sack? Or was it the overall swing to the right, and the major parties' hard-headed approach to people coming here illegally, that has led to this state of electoral dysfunction? Did Julia Gillard really blow it?

Okay, so now that the bad sexual puns are out of the way (count 'em up, people), let me say that while a hung parliament is an extraordinary result, it is the result of a very ordinary election campaign. Somehow within the space of a year, Labor managed not only to destroy their record popularity, but to make Liberal leader Tony Abbott seem like a viable candidate to be PM. That is quite a feat.

But really, the fact that neither party could muster the votes to govern in their own right reflects the fact that neither could make the electorate care either way. Part of the rise of the Greens in this election is because at least the Greens appear to believe in something.

And so I voted Green. Not that it mattered really; my electorate has so many rich people in it that the conservatives could run a chimp as a candidate and still win. I may as well have voted for the Sex Party.


  1. And so I voted Green. Not that it mattered really...

    Ah, but your Greens vote did presumably help Victoria to tidy up the senate by finally replacing Steve Fielding with Richard Di Natale. Only Vic and Tas managed to give Greens candidates a full senate quota in their own right without needing to rely on Labor surplus runoff etc.

    The likely Greens balance of power in the senate may come to be seen as the greatest achievement of this election, given the potentional for backwardsness in the this new uncertain House of Reps.

  2. To extend on what M (above) has said, another reason the Green vote is not wasted is the electoral funding that will be allocated for the next election. It's a longer-term view, but every bit helps in consolidating funds and profile for the party. I did the same as you - voted Green even though I knew it had no ability to affect the outcome of my seat - and I hope that means stronger Green presence overall next time!

    All that said, it will be interesting to see how the Greens handle being an almost-major party now. Infighting? Policy compromises? These elements are inevitable, I think, and I'm keen to see how the party handles them.

  3. The Taiwanese rendition of the Australian elections wasn't extremely accurate, but it merely got the gist of it. I doubt that the Sex Party was significant in the results, although they are an interesting phenomenon in politics today. I am thinking that they're not so inviable a candidate either. Oh well, I already voted Green here in Perth, can't change that.

    I can't help but think that the independants, whom they pretty much started off with the LNP but decided to diverge, would readily ally with the Liberals than with Labor. So do you think that that's the case?

  4. @ ImadK:
    in theory, the 3 country independents are philosophically closer to the Coalition. However, there is a lot of bad blood there, since many in the Nationals regard them as traitors to the cause. If you add that to Barnaby Joyce's election-night strop at Tony Windsor, and Bill Heffernan making "devilish" phone calls to Rob Oakeshott, the Coalition are doing all they can to make things more difficult for themselves.