In the U.S., we are quite familiar how the president, who is the chief executive and head of state, an important distinction I have made before, is nominated and elected. In the past few election cycles, we essentially go through a year-long process where candidates compete for their party’s nomination in the various states and territories, competing for both elected and non-elected delegates, and ending up at a nominating convention in which a candidate gets the (more or less) majority support of their party. (It is much more complicated than this, but this gives a good gist of what happens.) Then the candidates of the (major) parties compete for the ‘swing’ states which could decide the election in their favor for electors who eventually vote for them and are then affirmed at a special meeting of the U.S. Congress. The winner of the vote that is counted at this meeting (but essentially known during the Election Day results is inaugurated and then officially becomes the president.
That may sound terribly confusing for some who don’t live and breathe American politics. In that mindset, I felt that the Australian politics seemed confusing to me. I was reliant on various new publications including, but not limited to, the following: BBC News, Reuters, Herald Sun, ABC, and the Guardian News. Instead of the 4-year campaign cycle to remove a leader its constituents don’t like (albeit in this example it’s the party, not the people), the ousting and replacement took less than 24 hours. After a few members of the party wanted a leadership vote, which in a parliamentary system is generally the chief executive of that (majority) party, they voted for Kevin Rudd over Julia Gillard (who interestingly ousted Rudd in a similar leadership challenge a few years earlier). Then Gillard officially resigns from the position of prime minister and Rudd accepts being commissioned by the Governor-General (who is technically in charge of the country being appointed by the Queen who is the head of state of Australia since Australia is part of the Commonwealth). Rudd will then finally have to face a confidence vote of the lower house and since enough crossbenchers (equivalent to independent or 3rd-party members) have declared their intention to vote for the Labor Party (who are needed because Labor does not hold a majority of the house), Rudd will be able to rule as prime minister. (Wow, that was super complicated.)
I just think it is extremely interesting how others pick their leaders, whether on the national, super-national (e.g. European Union, United Nations), or sub-national (e.g. states, provinces, municipalities). Hopefully we can learn about how to make our system better by seeing how others conduct theirs. In that same vein, hopefully we can learn from each other, whether or not our ideas are identical, opposing, or somewhere in between.
P.S. Please let me know in the comments if my facts are wildly off regarding the Australian leadership.
- Rudd ousts Australia PM Gillard (bbc.co.uk)
- Aussie PM Gillard loses leadership ballot to Rudd (hosted.ap.org)
- Kevin Rudd wins Labor leadership (3aw.com.au)
- Rudd ousts Gillard in leadership vote (radionz.co.nz)
- Julia Gillard ousted as Australia prime minister (guardian.co.uk)
- He’s back: Kevin Rudd topples Aussie PM Julia Gillard (theweek.co.uk)
- Australia’s Gillard Resigns After Losing Leadership Vote (usnews.com)