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Australian Two Party System Essay

2180 words - 9 pages

The Australian Westminster model promotes a two party system that in modern history has started to undermine parliamentary democracy. This has created potential conflict between the modern representative party system and the principles of the supreme authority of parliament supporting the Westminster model of accountable government. The Australian Westminster parliamentary system consists of an upper and lower house, with the lower house forming government. The electoral system plays an important part in the selection of Australia’s parliamentary representatives. Australia’s Westminster model is a combination of the British Westminster system and America’s Washington system which is the ...view middle of the document...

The Australian public elects the House of Representatives through a compulsory preferential voting system (Jaensch, 1994). For the house of representatives (lower house) to be able to form government it requires majority of the 150 seats that are elected by the Australian public through the electoral voting system held every 3 years (House of Representatives, 2005). Each seat represents a geographical area that is of equal eligible voters in each electorate area. Each candidate that is elected into parliament is responsible to the people views of their geographical area. The preferential voting system works by the Australian public numbering their areas candidates in preferential order. The votes from the candidate of lowest preference are reassigned to the next preference selected from that candidates votes. This process is then repeated with the next lowest preferred candidates until all preferential votes are assigned. This form of compulsory preferential voting tends to produce a 2 party system which favours Australia’s major parties. This system can also enhance the power of minor parties, if a minor party wins a seat they hold bargaining power to the major parties if it is a close election. For example the 2010 election saw the liberal and labour party in a close election where neither party had enough seats to form government. The minor parties that had won seats then had the power to choose who they wanted to coincide with to form government. The Labour party won the election by gaining enough seats to from government with the help of the minor parties. This election could have gone either way if the minor parties had decided to join forces with the liberal party. This shows how the minor parties can have an influence on who forms government.

A two party system provides stability, the two main Australian parties are the liberal party and the labour party, both these party address main stream ideas to appeal to the Australian public to win government. Minor parties still play a significant role by representing the interest of the people that are not represented by the major parties. Minor parties tend to take on unpopular causes, this is said to be done as minor parties are unlikely to form government, which means they will be unable to implement legislations (Singleton et al, 2009). The minor parties are present to keep the major parties honest and to protest against extremist ideas.

Electing the senate is done differently using a proportional voting system where 12 candidates are elected from each state and 2 each from Australians capital territory and the northern territory. (Singleton et al, 2009). Proportional voting system is done through preferential voting and the single transferable vote. This type of system allows for the minor parties to gain a seat in the senate. Having different systems to elect the lower and upper house also allows different majority of parties to be in parliament. This creates a better overall...

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