25 November 2007

Thoughts on The Australian Federal Elections

After a lengthy campaigning that began long before I arrived in Australia, the federal elections here has finally concluded, with what the nationwide newspaper in Australia, The Australian, calls it a Ruddslide. Opposition leader Kevin Rudd, of the Australian Labor Party, swept off long time Prime Minister John Howard to ascend the throne.

Not that I have a particular interest in the elections, but being here you can't help not noticing the major headlines. And it is quite fascinating to observe several trends in Australia and see how they compare with Singapore's:

1) Everyone says it is a landslide victory for Labor and a devastating defeat for Howard's coalition. Base on projections, the seat count gives Labor 84 and the coalition (Liberal + National) 48. If I recall correctly, someone was not happy with a victory of 82 against 2.

2) Labor supporters appear to be everywhere, and support for Liberal is quite invisible. But that just means that Liberal supporters are more silent than the Labor opposition. Similarity in Singapore? Election rallies, remember?

3) Howard may even lose his own seat in Parliament, with the Labor candidate gaining a slim margin over him in his seat of Bennelong. Of course Lee Hsien Loong was nowhere clear in losing, but his 66% is... erm... not a very proud victory by Singapore standards.

4) The ballot here involves putting priority your preferences. That is to say, if there are three candidates, you rank them in order of your preference. I think what happens is that during the voting counting the one with the lowest vote will be eliminated, and the votes going to them in first priority will go to the voters' second choice. Needless to say, this kind of system is hardly necessary in Singapore. We're still looking at reducing the number of walkovers...

5) The voters have to vote for members of parliament and members of the Senate. With a 82-to-2, there's no absolute need for that in Singapore; it's all the same.

Ah well, that pretty much sums up my thoughts on this interesting event.

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