Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sorry. . .

For the light posting. During the week we've settled into a routine, and the kids are in bed pretty early.

Met with the Fulbright staff again today, to schedule my series of public lectures. I'll set up three different talks: election integrity, campaign finance, and executive power. For all of the similarities between the U.S. and Australian systems, there are big differences. Political parties are everything here, and candidates cannot realistically run without a party endorsement. Most members of Parliament spend no time raising money on their own (in contrast to congressional candidates, who routinely raise millions). It's almost unheard of for legislators to vote against their party -- three members of the governing coalition announced today that they would vote against a government bill on immigration and asylum, and it led the news.

And the voting process is enormously complicated. In the lower house, voters have to rank all of the candidates, and a system called Approval Voting is used. If you don't rank every candidate, your ballot doesn't count. This insures that whatever candidate is elected has an absolute majority of the vote, even if it isn't the voters' first choice. In the Senate, they use a system called Single Transferable Vote, which is about as complicated a voting method as there is. Sometimes, it takes more than 200 iterations to figure out which candidates are elected. In 1999, there was an election called the "tablecloth election," because there were so many candidates that the ballot (which by law has to be on a single page) was about 40 x 30 inches.
But, it seems to work.

Susan visted the art gallery today. The big scandal is that the museum had a Van Gogh valued at $20 million, but it turns out to be most likely a fake. Bummer.

Hmm. Guess this wasn't such a light post.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Marty Mayer said...

It seems that the voting system was designed by the same people who came up with Australian Rules Football. But aren't they having more fun then we do with our versions of both?

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Marty Mayer said...

It seems that the voting system was designed by the same people who came up with Australian Rules Football. But aren't they having more fun then we do with our versions of both?

8:26 PM  

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