Monday, July 04, 2016

The Australian election

Australia went to the polls over the weekend in a rare double dissolution election, and have voted themselves a hung Parliament. While the final numbers will depend on postal votes (as in New Zealand), the initial results (plus seats in doubt) suggest an equal tie between Labour and the coalition, with a crossbench of six minor party and independent MP's deciding who forms a government. As for the Senate, Malcolm Turnbull's gamble to free himself of an unccoperative crossbench has backfired spectacularly, and seen the re-emergence of One Nation and Pauline Hanson to boot.

Austrlaia isn't used to this. Like the UK, they're used to a strapped-chicken electoral system delivering unfair but decisive results. So the politicians are reacting with outrage, declaring that they'll refuse to negotiate with each other, as if that will change the result. They need to grow up, accept the hand the electorate have dealt them, and try to make it work.

As for how that's going to happen, its anyone's guess in the lower house. Labor may have a slight advantage as they can rely on the support of the Greens, but its really going to come down to the two MPs of the "Nick Xenophon Team" (Australia still having personalist parties) In the Senate, it looks like the Coalition simply won't be able to enact their desired policies, so its either three years of (moderated) Labor or three years of stasis. Unless of course the politicians throw their toys again and demand another election because they don't like the result...

Meanwhile I'm left boggled by the electoral commission of a supposedly first-world country which takes three days to produce even a preliminary count. Waiting for postal and special votes for the final results is one thing, but in this day and age, a modern electoral administration should be able to count everything on the night. And if they can't, you really have to wonder whether they are sufficiently resourced to do the job.