ARE SO CALLED DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS DEMOCRATIC?
This article belongs to Australia - Land of the Free? column.
We go along on Election Day to vote thinking we are participating in one of the great privileges of modern society - the democratic election. But, let us examine what really happens.
First of all, the cabinet is the decision making body of the Government. All other members have to vote the way cabinet decides. This body is made up of Government Ministers who vote for what they believe is the best action. However, usually it is dominated by the Leader of the Government or perhaps one or two others that force the others to conform. So the result of all those millions of votes leads to only a few making decisions for the country or state.
The Government Party Room is also dominated by the leader and is similar to the cabinet only with more members. Perhaps contrary views may be expressed but they are soon put down with party hacks seeking to curry favour with the leader.
The Parliament: this is where the adversarial system is seen at it's most ugly. In many instances, it is silly and designed not for good government but to get elected at the next election. The Parliament is only useful for the Opposition to voice their views but they have no chance of any of their ideas being accepted because they don't have the numbers. But, Parliament is a circus with members grandstanding and indulging in rhetoric designed for the media so members can appear to be smarter or more acceptable than other parties. Almost no decisions are made in Parliament; with cabinet deciding - meaning the leader of the Government - what their party is going to vote for.
The preselection process is where political parties select people to represent the party at the election. Political parties are looking for two things, one - talented people who have the potential to be leaders and win an election, two - party hacks who will do as they are told by party bosses. At the most, a few hundred people may get to decide who the party will endorse, but at other times candidates are decided by factions bosses and no one gets to vote.
So we get to an election.
It is in the major parties interest to concentrate all their attention and advertising on the leader to take attention away from most of the inadequate candidates who are only there to vote the way they are told. These candidates also have another function, and that is to get out in their electorates and campaign to win the next election.
So we have a perpetual election campaign.
The media is mainly responsible for winding politicians up to get a grab for the news. They also allows party spin doctors to dictate what is reported. Journalists need to get out and dig up stories by talking to people and not waiting for clinically composed statements from the media office.
The prime task of politicians is to get elected; a secondary task is to run the country or state.
We as voters should never forget that.
The author thanks advice from John DeLaine.