I saw a comedy pie chart the other day which basically trisected the US population into the 32M who voted for Trump, the 35M who voted for Hilary and the 76M who now wished that they had voted.
You would not get that kind of graphic following an Australian election, because voting is compulsory. When I first came here, I was furious that I had to vote, I felt that it was my democratic right not to have to vote, but over the years I have changed my mind. Given that the major pastime of pretty much everyone is complaining about government, it seems sensible that everyone needs to take responsibility and cast a vote – even at times if it is little more than guess or it feels as if you are trying to chose the lesser of two evils.
The other thing about Australia is that they have a preferential voting system, so whoever you vote for, you end up voting for someone else if your choice is not one of the major parties.
Yesterday was a state election in Western Australia, which generally gets people as excited, if not more excited about getting a, ‘democracy sausage’ than electing a government. The sausage is available for purchase at the BBQs set up at many of the primary schools used as polling stations and it was to one of these that I went to cast my vote. There were both cupcakes and sausages for sale, but I ignored them both and all the mad supporters handing out ‘How to Vote’ cards. I did not need a card because I had used an online tool to work out the preference flows and number the boxes I needed – all 48 of them.
The polls had predicted a loss for the current government, not least because they had been in power for a good while and voters over here tend to like a change but also because they had done a last minute preference deal with a mob called ‘One Nation’ who run under an anti-immigration banner. Still, it is an election and the polls have been wrong before, so at six O’clock that evening I settled down to watch the results come in.
I think it took something like forty minutes – that can not be right, can it? Maybe an hour and forty minutes, but it was quick anyway, for the political analyst, whose job it is to analyse the data as it came it, to assert that the government had not only lost, it was going to be kicked out in a landslide result for the opposition, with a number of MPs losing their seats.
And that was it, in a little under a couple of hours an entire regime had changed. It will not be as dramatic as the changes to the UK and the US, but it is more change which will lead to a period of slight uncertainty as the incoming government work out what they want to do. The big problem (apparently) is the level of state debt so who knows what changes that will mean. Perhaps they should just get a bigger credit card.
As if in recognition, the weather broke today. It has been humid for a while, although mercifully cooler at night with a breeze. Archie sat on my lap and trembled at the thunder, which he hates. Lucy sat next to us. She was not scared but wanted to be a part of whatever was going on. The electricity was cut, but only for a few seconds and then the storm rumbled over the house and away.
I was glad when it was gone. I’ve had enough of change for a while. There is a course I have to be at next week and I have not done the reading, but then I am ahead on hoovering. I guess you can not have it all. Time for bed.