Friday, August 20, 2010

Upcoming Election

Well, it's nearly that time again. A Federal election in Australia and people are wondering "who should I vote for?"

Actually, I think that the majority of people have no clue and no desire to find out about the election process. You get tricked a little because most of the ads by the bigger parties will be promoting the two main leaders (Gillard and Abbott), but unless you live in their electorate then their names won't appear on the ballot.

Why? Because most people in Australia have been "Americanized" and think that they are voting for who will be President / Prime Minister. This is not true - people vote for their local members and the party with the most members normally makes it's leader the Prime Minister. People don't vote for who gets to be the Prime Minister which is why there was no major issue with Gillard kicking out Rudd and taking over. It wasn't a coupe.

The two best things people can do is:
  1. Do their homework. It takes all of three minutes to go to the AEC website (that's the Australian Electoral Commission) and click the big "who is on the ballot" button. This will let you find out the names of the people who will be on the ballot tomorrow. Most people will be surprised to find out that there are not three candidates, but fifty five. And none of these names will be familiar. By doing a bit of research, people will be able to decide how they will vote before going to the polling booth.
  2. Use their own preferences and vote for a minor party first, then the big party.
How it works in Australia is that all votes go the the person that vote was cast for. If there is no clear winner, then whoever got the least votes has their votes moved to the #2 spot on those votes. This repeats until someone is the clear winner. This is the simple version on how the preferences work.

If people just vote for the big parties Labour and Liberal) then they are shoe-in and we get more of the same. If people vote for minor parties first (like the Shooters Association, the Climate Skeptics or the Australian Sex Party) then the balance of power is distributed and it means more stable political policies since the party that ends up in power can't just arbitrarily make new policies that benefit small sections of the community, they have to take a broader approach.

Having said that, I'm calling this election as a landslide victory for Liberal, making Gillard the first female Prime Minister in Australia and also the shortest serving (about two months). Labour were already on the way out with the mining supr profits tax and Gillard's back-stab of Kevin so close to the election was a destabilizing influence. Australian's don't like traitors and they don't like change.

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