Why Aus­tra­lia loses prime mi­nis­ters

L’in­sta­bi­li­té gou­ver­ne­men­tale aus­tra­lienne ex­pli­quée.

Vocable (Anglais) - - Édito Sommaire -

De­puis le 24 août der­nier, l’Aus­tra­lie a un nou­veau Pre­mier mi­nistre en la per­sonne de Scott Mor­ri­son. Il suc­cède à Mal­colm Turn­bull, vic­time d’un « putsch » à l’in­té­rieur de son propre par­ti. Scott Mor­ri­son est le sep­tième Pre­mier mi­nistre que connaît le pays en onze ans... Comment ex­pli­quer cette in­sta­bi­li­té po­li­tique chro­nique dans ce pays ?

In the quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry to 2007, Aus­tra­lia had three prime mi­nis­ters. Since then not a single one has sur­vi­ved a full three-year term. First went Ke­vin Rudd, a La­bor lea­der who was re­pla­ced by his de­pu­ty, Ju­lia Gillard, in 2010. When her po­pu­la­ri­ty plum­me­ted, he kni­fed her in re­turn but lost a ge­ne­ral elec­tion short­ly af­ter. That led to the ins­tal­la­tion of To­ny Ab­bott, a hard­line con­ser­va­tive, as prime mi­nis­ter in 2013. But he las­ted on­ly un­til 2015 be­fore being top­pled by the more mo­de­rate Mal­colm Turn­bull. [In Au­gust], fol­lo­wing a coup fo­men­ted by Mr Ab­bott’s hard-right bloc, Mr Turn­bull lost his job. Scott Mor­ri­son, the for­mer trea­su­rer, is now prime mi­nis­ter. That brings the to­tal to six in 11 pros­pe­rous years. Why does Aus­tra­lia keep lo­sing lea­ders?

2. Its po­li­ti­cians can re­place their bosses in a vote by par­ty MPs known as a lea­der­ship “spill”. These can hap­pen qui­ck­ly and bru­tal­ly, with the win­ner re­qui­ring just 50% of the vote. Spills were rare be­fore this cen­tu­ry, so some as­cribe their in­crea­sing po­pu­la­ri­ty to a mo­dern preoc­cu­pa­tion with opinion polls and po­pu­la­ri­ty. Par­ties of­ten bet that re­pla­cing a prime mi­nis­ter will boost sup­port be­fore the next elec­tion. A se­ries of weak lea­ders, nur­sing per­so­nal ven­det­tas, has on­ly ad­ded to the pro­blem. “We’ve set a pre­cedent,” ob­serves Mi­chael Ful­li­love of the Lowy Ins­ti­tute, a think-tank. “We are wai­ting for a prime mi­nis­ter who can break it.”


3. Other causes re­late to the pe­cu­lia­ri­ties of Aus­tra­lia’s parliamentary sys­tem. First, its three-year elec­to­ral cycle is among the shor­test anyw­here in the world. Prime mi­nis­ters are ba­re­ly sworn in be­fore par­ties start thin­king about the next elec­tion. Se­cond, the Aus­tra­lian se­nate is one of the world’s most po­wer­ful. It can neu­ter go­vern­ments that do not con­trol it, and not ma­ny go­vern­ments do. The

“We are wai­ting for a prime mi­nis­ter who can break it.”

(An­drew Tay­lor/AP/SI­PA)

New Aus­tra­lian Prime Mi­nis­ter Scott Mor­ri­son, left, is congra­tu­la­ted by the Go­ver­nor Ge­ne­ral Sir Pe­ter Cos­grove, Au­gust 2018.

(An­drew Tay­lor/AP/SI­PA)

For­mer Aus­tra­lian Prime Mi­nis­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull du­ring a fi­nal press con­fe­rence, Au­gust 2018.

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