22 February 2012

Adventures in Democracy: Australian Edition

The current goings on in Australian politics are utterly fascinating. Combining elements of high-minded democratic governance with characteristics of a reality television show and UFC fighting, the next week will see an all-out brawl for the leadership of the Australian Labor Party between Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister and Julia Gillard, the current prime minister. Here in a nutshell is how we got to today.
  • Kevin Rudd was forced to resign as  Prime Minister in 2010 after Julia Gillard engineered a palace coup
  • In 2010 the Australian federal elections resulted in a hung parliament, with the ALP and the Liberal/National Coalition each winning 72 seats
  • The balance of power lay in the hands of 6 independents who broke 4-2 for the ALP and Gillard
  • The government thus rests precariously on a single vote majority
  • Gillard installed Rudd as Foreign minister
  • Since 2010 there have been various rumblings, including on this blog, that Rudd was going to make a leadership challenge (and if could have been seen from Boulder, then it must have been fairly obvious;-)
  • The tensions have built in the past weeks, with Rudd's challenge to leadership obviously mounting
  • Early this morning, US time, Rudd resigned dramatically as foreign minister
  • The ALP caucus (of the 103 members of the House and Senate) is likely to have to vote on the leadership next week
  • Gillard says she has 60 votes, Rudd says that both have about 30 
 The possible outcomes are many:
  • Gillard as PM
  • Rudd as PM
  • Neither as PM
  • A new election called by ALP
  • A new election caused by a change in the majority if an independent defects
  • A new election caused by a Rudd resignation (and subsequent election lost by ALP)
 You don't have to be a political scientist to be enthralled by the spectacle of democracy in action.


  1. Do you mean spectacle of democracy or spectacle of pure greed?

  2. Democracy, clearly. “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” - Churchill.

    Although I admit he has a quote for every occasion, such as “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.”


  3. -2-Roddy

    Thanks, what did he say about Aussies? ;-)

  4. Well, its all riveting stuff and no one knows which way it will go. You have to go back to the last time Labor imploded over 35 yrs ago when the GG sacked PM Goff Whitlam.

    One hoped for outcome will be the caning of the the carbon tax, or at the very least its postponement.

  5. Just to make my point clearer, whilst a number of factors have been in play in this charade, the over-riding factor has been the Australian Governments go-stop-go actions in relation to the (alleged) catastrophe of impending climate change and wanting to be recognised as a good boy on the world scene.

  6. Rudd has all but said he will challenge the leadership. Not sure it's democracy, us poor voters have little say in the leadership machinations of the parties.

    Rudd was criticised for attempting to bring in carbon pricing then dropping it like a hot potato. Gillard was criticised for saying she wouldn't bring in carbon pricing in the election lead-up then doing so after she became PM.

    Is this enthralling? Irritating maybe. I guess in Boulder you'd have a different view of it. :-)