The events of the 2013 election marked the culmination of an eventful era in Australian politics. The election marked the end of a hung parliament. In addition, a former Prime Minister returned to power (Rudd) only to lose again at the hands of an incumbent (Gillard) who had previously taken his position (Davidson, 2013). This is a mark of healthy democracy. Democracy has been defined as rule of the majority. Consequently, for politicians to gather support of the majority, they have to make stands on issues. These key issues that appeal to the public will be the deciding factor in whether they are backed or not. Consequently, the public has the ability to elect the leader whom they feel will push their best interests. The public had become disillusioned by the running of government affairs by the Rudd and Gillard administrations (ABC, 2013). As a result, there was a clamor for change. The public needed a break from the policies of the labor party. Consequently, the election was a welcome break for the voters to decide the leader they wanted at the helm. The ability to choose leaders is a trademark of democracy. Therefore, the Australian people are privileged to have the two-party democratic system. It provides them with a clear option on who should lead them and steer their interests.
The two-party system is essential to the health of Australian liberal democracy because Australians have a watchdog in the form of the opposition party. Presence of too many opposition parties will lead to distractive politics and the government will be able to get away with slacking on their job. In the wake of the Gillard administration, there was a lot of financial and personal scandals among some MPs. The MPs involved in the scandal included a former speaker (AEC, 2014). In a system with more than two parties, the level of corruption would have risen this is because once the corruption is detected, many personal and political interests would come into play. In order not to lose the game of political chess, corruption would be widespread where favors would be exchanged in order to keep up a facade to the public.
The Australian voters had been tired of formal politic run by successive governments for a long time. The 2013 election was a form of protest over the mode of running the government by the Labor party. Social media was used means of creating political discourse (Davidson, 2013). As a democratic state, the people were free to air their views on issues affecting them on various platforms. Therefore, it was not a surprise when the 2013 election saw a record number of aspirants fielded in both the Senate and the House of Representatives (AEC, 2014). The election saw a significant rise in the number of fresh minor party and independent candidates who were able to make it through in the polls. The competition was so tight in some areas that appeals were made to the Electoral Commissioner and a petition tabled before the Court of Disputed Returns. This was an indication of healthy democratic spirit at play. Such competition due to the practice of healthy democracy that can be attributed to the two-party system.
The shift in balance caused by the 2013 elections is good for democracy. The commanding majority in the House of Representatives is held by the new government. The result is a change in the dynamics of customary Australian politics. Minority players are the bigger number in the new Senate (AEC, 2014). The balance is good for the current democratic system since the domination of government in both houses will lead to gagging of opinion not similar to the governments opinion. Consequently, negotiations have to take place between the government and the senators in order for it to pass its legislation. This will ensure there is a balance of power. The public will not have to endure poor decision making by the government since they will have a watchdog in the form of Senators from minority and independent parties.
The shift in power balance occasioned by the 2013 election will consequently lead to a significant drop in the countrys political temperatures. Tony Abbott being in power will no longer be able to use the tactics he used while in the opposition to challenge the government. Therefore, with his customary tools unavailable, he will have to focus on his new role of running the country. The tactics which served him well while in the opposition will not cut it in his new role (Thye Conversation Inc, 2013). He will have to find a way to on the same page with leaders like Clive Palmers of Palmer United Party. Palmer United Party will be in control of the balance of power in the Senate. Bill Shorten who took over as the new opposition leader has no significant leverage on the government (AEC, 2014). Consequently, Abbott and his government have a better chance of fulfilling their pledges with minimal resistance. The beneficiary of this is the voter whether they voted for Abbott or not. Over time, Labor and the Greens will lose their control of the Senate. They will need to play their political cards right or wait for Abbott and his government to slip for them to make a significant move. All this is good for the concept of and practice of liberal democracy. There should be a lopsided balance of power in favor of the ruling party in order for the government to operate at its most efficient capacity to fulfill its promises.
In any case if the current government fails to run its full term, it will not be the efforts of the Labor party. It will be attributed to the governments inability to reason with Clive Palmer and his Palmer United Party. If Clive Palmer and his Palmer United Party resolve to block bills in the Senate, it may lead to a double dissolution (AEC, 2014).
In conclusion, the loss of the Labor party at the 2013 federal elections was a good point for democracy. The shift in the balance of power is healthy since no one holds significant power on their own yet there is a possibility for easier negotiation. The ruling party can pass legislations through the Senate with much less resistance than before. Consequently, the policies they pledged can be achieved more efficiently. On the other hand, in the case the ruling party does not satisfy the expectations of the electorate; the Senate has the power to bring about dissolution of the government. Consequently, a healthy democratic balance of power was established by the results of the 2013 federal election.
ABC. (2013, December). Australia Votes | Federal Election 2013 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/federal-election-2013/
AEC. (2014, July). 2013 federal election - Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved from http://www.aec.gov.au/elections/federal_elections/2013/index.htm
Australian Politics. (2013, January). "Our Plan" - Tony Abbott Releases Coalition Policy Document | AustralianPolitics.com. Retrieved from http://australianpolitics.com/2013/01/27/our-plan-tony-abbott-releases-policy-document.html
Davidson, H. (2013, September). Election 2013: Coalition wins victory - reaction as it happened | Australia news | The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/global/2013/sep/07/coalition-wins-federal-election-live-blog
Parliament of Australia. (2014, January). Federal Election 2013: issues, dynamics, outcomes Parliament of Australia. Retrieved from http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1314/FedElection2013
Thye Conversation Inc. (2013, December). 2013, the year that was: Politics + Society. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/2013-the-year-that-was-politics-society-21648
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