2016: the year of the extraordinary elections

Australia. Land of sunshine and sandy beaches, and now, an increasingly high level of political disillusion.

Its recent federal election campaign lasted a long nine weeks, with a few seats still left to declare. This, all 13 days after polling day.

The House of Representatives, Canberra, ACT.

The Liberal National coalition has thinly retained power, narrowly reaching the seats needed to form a government.

The results show that voters are thoroughly fed up of the status quo, making their displeasure and disillusion known at the ballot box.

A 2016 survey by the University of Canberra and the Museum of Australian Democracy revealed that the level of satisfaction with Australian democracy has halved since 2007. A number of political party coups, concerns over immigration and displeasure of ‘big interests’ have been cited as reasons for this change, and very well effecting the results of this year’s election.

Elizabeth Tower and the shadow of Churchill, Westminster

Back home, the EU Referendum has caused seismic change in the UK. A vote to leave the European Union, a change of Prime Minister, a new Government and a Labour Party in continuing crisis has all happened in less than a month.

As a friend satirically sent to me:

“The leader of the opposition campaigned to stay but secretly wanted to leave, so his party held a non-binding vote to shame him into resigning so someone else could lead the campaign to ignore the result of the non-binding referendum which many people now think was just angry people trying to shame politicians into seeing they’d all done nothing to help them.
Meanwhile, the man who campaigned to leave because he hoped losing would help him win the leadership of his party, accidentally won and ruined any chance of leading because the man who thought he couldn’t lose, did — but resigned before actually doing the thing the vote had been about. The man who’d always thought he’d lead next, campaigned so badly that everyone thought he was lying when he said the economy would crash — and he was, but he’s not resigned, but, like the man who lost and the man who won, also now can’t become leader.
Which means the woman who quietly campaigned to stay but always said she wanted to leave has become leader instead. Which means she holds the same view as the leader of the opposition but for opposite reasons, but her party’s view of this view is the opposite of the opposition’s. And the opposition aren’t yet opposing anything because the leader isn’t listening to his party, who aren’t listening to the country, who aren’t listening to experts or possibly paying that much attention at all.
However, none of their opponents actually want to be the one to do the thing that the vote was about, so there’s not yet anything actually on the table to oppose anyway. And if no one ever does do the thing that most people asked them to do, it will be undemocratic and if anyone ever does do it, it will be awful.”

Confusing, eh?

Despite a high turnout and passionate debate on both sides, many people are still disillusioned with the state of politics.

This seems to be a view that we share with our Australian comrades- change is required, even wished for, but many of us are not sure what it really means. For the Australians, the government has scraped back into power with a reduced majority and a continually disillusioned public. For the UK, what wasn’t expected has happened in a matter of days.

2016 has been a year of elections, and with the biggest to be held in November, the political debate will continue to intensify. More change is coming!

Oval Office carpet replica, George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Dallas, TX.
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