Recently Australia had elections. Things were so different I feel like voting deserves a post of it's own. Like most times, I spent a lot of time talking to people and reading Wikipedia to gather my information, I am in no way an expert, but here is what I have learned. The National and States are set up mostly the same, so I will be explaining them both. One difference in National and State is Queensland, the state we live in, doesn't have a Senate. They voted a couple of years ago, and decided it was pointless.
Because a little over 54% people voted in the national election in 1922, they decided to improve voter turnout. Since 1924 voting in Australia is not optional. Everyone must vote. While they do have 100% voter turnout, they are a little behind on how they vote. Most Australians still vote on paper ballet.
They do have a Senate and House of Representatives like America, but their terms can differ. House of Representatives are elected for no more than three years, but the Prime Minister or Premier can determine to dissolve House of Representatives at any moment before the three years is complete. When the Prime Minister makes this choice, Parliament must return home and start campaigning for their seat back. The election is held quick, like in 30 days quick. Yes, you read that correctly, Americans! There is only 30 days of campaign ads and political hoopla.
Here is a really big difference though. They do not elect Prime Ministers. The people go and vote for their representative in Parliament on a local level, and the party who wins the most seats picks the Prime Minister. The person they pick must be in Parliament though, he has to be someone that has won an election for a seat. The party can get mad at the person they determine to be the Prime Minister and over throw them. They just elect a new leader from their party.
After learning this, I thought dissolving a House of Representatives and having a quick election would put the party in charge an advantage, because they know elections are coming. But, just like the Premier of Queensland figured out recently, dissolving a House of Representatives early can not always be to your advantage. He dissolved Queensland House of Representatives early, had a rush election, and didn't win the majority. He lost his seat.
Now, one would think once you are elected to represent you could not change parties after you arrive at Parliament. Oh! That has happened also since I have been here, Jacquie Lambie was elected to Parliament as a member of the Palmer United party, to only get mad, and become an independent. When she changed parties, she jumped from wearing a yellow scarf to a pink one.
As I said really big differences. Can you imagine if the Democrats got mad, and decided to just put a new President in? But Hey! I would say they have checks and balances, no leader is just going to have too much power, the party will over throw them if their popularity numbers start dropping. I would also say they really have to listen to the people who elected them, you might not only loose your seat, but your party could lose the leader.
Who knows which way is better or correct, if you ask me, most politicians are so out of touch with reality, they all need a wake up call. I always love to learn how a government works though. Really interesting. After reading this, put the way Australian's do elections to your government, how do you think it would turn out?
*I researched this the best I could, I am in no way an expert of Australian Politics.