In the former Yugoslav country of Slovenia, “liberal newcomer Robert Golob defeated populist, Trump-fan Janes Janša, in an election tipped as a “referendum on democracy.” His movement, launched only in January, snapped a whopping 34.5% of the vote. [Thanks Manja Mexi for the link].
Two days ago, it was Australia’s turn to vote.
A country where voting is compulsory, where the population is generally laid-back; a more or less classless people, where wages have not grown in the past decade unless of course, you are an elected politician.
Since the last election, 3 years ago, an undercurrent of disenchantment, of disgust with the current Government and politicians who appear not to listen to the people, has been growing steadily.
Sounding familiar, anyone?
Growing also, but more recently, was a notable confidence amongst women constituents and a repudiation of their ill-treatment by men in the halls of power as well as a lack of representation, in Government, especially in the right-wing of politics.
This election felt different.
Many, many people voted prior to election day. Many people were disenchanted with the major political parties as one voter wrote:
I do care greatly that we have a political class more concerned with their own welfare and that of their benefactors than the future of the planet. As Adam Bandt said, “this should be a contest of ideas”. This election is not a pub trivia quiz. It is a contest for our children’s and grandchildren’s future. Phillip Moore, Bonnet Bay
The Government Moves to the Right
The incumbent government, a coalition of two formerly more centrist parties were moving much further to the right, with a leader who styled himself along Trumpist/GOP lines: “My way or the highway.” A leader who took himself and his family off to Hawaii during a natural disaster at home with the excuse that he needed a holiday.
A leader who had to ask his wife if the rape of a female staff member in the early hours of the morning, at Parliament House was wrong. A leader who kept his Attorney-General (the highest legal position in Australia), on staff while he was tried for other, rape charges.
People had had enough.
Women were standing up. It started with a protest march for justice back in 2021. Women began speaking out about sexual harassment in parliament house. The incumbent Government went into denial.
The Rise of Female Teal Candidates
Female candidates not aligned with any of the major parties stood for election in 2022. They stood for election against sitting Government members. They were dubbed the ‘Teal’ candidates – and together, in this election, this loose grouping snagged around 30% of the vote in some areas, deposing the sitting Liberal Government members.
Along with the Greens Party, the so-called, ‘Teal wave,’ appears to be a political force to be reckoned with.
Most decent-minded Australians are sending a clear message in this election. They don’t want the male spectator-sport combative style of politics, nor the shouting, slanging matches in Parliament.
Rather, they want politicians to be accountable, to be consultative and listen to the people. A place where ideas can be debated productively. Isn’t that a real democracy?
Moreover, Australian women want our parliament to be a place that reflects the real Australian society – which is 50% female.
Am I wrong to think that most people want:
- Gender Equality and improved Status of Women
- An Integrity Commission for Politicians
- Action on Climate Change
- A Voice for Indigenous Folk and First Nations People
- A consultative parliament
Most sane, caring humans would. Labour, the Greens and The Teal Independents do.
However, without a cohesive majority in the Senate or upper house, it won’t be easy for the new Government to achieve real legislative change. I hope they can move quickly and achieve much.
P.M. Anthony Albanese and the Uluru Statment from the Heart
The next Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese is a more grounded individual than his predecessor. Albanese was raised by a single mum on a disability pension. He grew up in public housing, graduated from a prestigious University and rose through the ranks of party politics to lead the Labor Party and now, Australia.
His victory speech promised to recognize the Uluru Statement from the Heart: a movement of the Australian people for a better future,[for] all sides of politics to support a First Nations Voice to Parliament, so that we can finally have a say on policies and laws that affect us).
This gives hope to Australians that things will be better. As long as mainstream media can retain some objectivity.
I also hope the media do their job as professional reporters a little better, not gutter-raking tattle-tales looking for the next buzzy headline and ‘gotcha’ moment.
When a journalist tried to trap Adam Bandt, the leader of one of the minor parties, the Greens, into making an error on the current Wage Price Index, (thus making him appear uninformed), he responded with,
Google it, mate!
Elections should be ‘contest of ideas’, not a ‘fact checking exercise’