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.