Australians’ cup of democracy runneth over.
Those lucky souls in the lucky country have the opportunity to change Prime Minister in a few short weeks’ time.
The state of New South Wales getS to change their parish council too.
Except, Australians get a new Prime Minister every 18 months anyway, whether they voted for one or not.
Seriously, they do.
Of course, this leads to a surplus of ex-Prime Ministers. By May this year, the list of people who are still alive and claiming the not-insubstantial pension and benefits of the highest office in the land, will probably look like this;
Bob Hawke (run out)
Paul Keating (bowled)
John Howard (bowled)
Kevin Rudd (1st innings run out, 2nd innings bowled)
Julia Gillard (run out)
Tony Abbott (run out)
Malcolm Turnbull (run out)
Scott Morrison (bowled)
That’s a lot of pension payments, allowances for an office and staff and, of course, the free Qantas first class flights for life.
Thank goodness the Australian economy can afford it. Oh, wait…
Voting is compulsory in Australia. Let me repeat that; it’s illegal to not turn up and pretend to cast a vote in elections.
Chances are, you’re reading this in a jurisdiction where voting isn’t mandated, so you might think there’s something to be admired by this system.
Well, consider the probability that a voter of above average intelligence could navigate and make sense of this voting form;
If you choose to number your preferences “above the line”, the candidates then distribute your secondary votes as they see fit, should they not win a majority of primary votes.
If you choose to vote “below the line”, you can distribute your votes to each individual candidate.
Either way, it’s not clear what each person stands for or what commitments they would give to vote in a particular way should they find themselves in office. There’s an awful lot of single-issue candidates in that list, one assumes the well-informed “high information” Australian voters have read each and every manifesto and election promise these people have pledged.
Many of the great leaps forward of the human condition involve a critical mass of the population agreeing to believe a man-made concept. The value of money is a great example of this; a dollar has worth because enough people agree it has. When that changes, the value of money collapses very quickly.
Democracy is a similar fallacy that works because we say it does.
On March 29th, 17.4 million voters in the UK may discover that fallacy isn’t as robust a concept as they previously thought.
With a system as laughable as this one, the people of Australia may not be far behind in that discovery.