Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How things work in a parliamentary democracy

Short walk to the backbench
With an election to be held in September, the MPs of the Australian Labor Party looked at the polls, consulted their constituents, and concluded that their leader, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, was certain to lose most of their seats for them if she led them in the election.

So they had a vote.  On the bedrock parliamentary principle that the government is accountable to the legislature and therefore party leaders are accountable to the caucus they belong to, the Labor caucus put Prime Minister Gillard up against her leadership rival Kevin Rudd. They had "a spill," as the Aussies put it. The Labor MPs decided by simple majority that with Rudd as leader, they might have better odds of persuading their consituents to re-elect them. So today Rudd is leader of the party. Prime Minister Gillard anad several of her key cabinet allies are backbenchers again.  Since the Labor Party is actually a minority government, it remains to be seen whether the legislature will vote confidence in the new government

In a working parliamentary democracy, leadership accountability is always swift and implacable.  Not in Canada, you say?  Pity.  (Will Prime Minister Harper decide to retire sometime in the latter part of the decade? Yawn.)
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