Malcolm Turnbull Liu Jiansheng/ZumaPress

Australia’s Pantomime Democracy

Malcolm Turnbull is Australia's fourth prime minister in just 27 months. There seem to be three reasons why no incumbent in this stable bastion of Western democracy, and the world’s twelfth-largest economy, has served a full term in office since 2007.

CANBERRA – Australia has a new prime minister – its fifth in just eight years. No Australian prime minister has served a full electoral term since 2007, and we have had four incumbents in the last 27 months alone. In June 2013, Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard was defeated in a party-room vote by Kevin Rudd, who lost the post in the general election later that year to the conservative coalition’s Tony Abbott, who has now in turn been defeated in a party-room coup by Malcolm Turnbull.

This latest turn in our prime ministerial carousel has left Australians trying, yet again, to explain to bemused colleagues around the world how this stable bastion of Western democracy, and the world’s twelfth-largest economy, could be engaged in such a pantomime. Is it something in the water that makes us want to treat our political leaders like disposable tissues?

There seem to be three different dimensions to the explanation. One is simply the local impact of the impatience that is becoming increasingly obvious in the world’s established democracies. The endless 24/7 media cycle and omnipresent social media are generating a taste for celebrity and an almost pathological preoccupation with current opinion polls, rather than serious political debate. Traditional parties and processes are finding it harder and harder to satisfy the demand for instant gratification.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/Xxd4iNt;
  1. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    Angela Merkel’s Endgame?

    The collapse of coalition negotiations has left German Chancellor Angela Merkel facing a stark choice between forming a minority government or calling for a new election. But would a minority government necessarily be as bad as Germans have traditionally thought?

  2. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.

  3. A GrabBike rider uses his mobile phone Bay Ismoyo/Getty Images

    The Platform Economy

    While developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia are rapidly aging, emerging economies are predominantly youthful. Nigerian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese young people will shape global work trends at an increasingly rapid pace, bringing to bear their experience in dynamic informal markets on a tech-enabled gig economy.

  4. Trump Mario Tama/Getty Images

    Profiles in Discouragement

    One day, the United States will turn the page on Donald Trump. But, as Americans prepare to observe their Thanksgiving holiday, they should reflect that their country's culture and global standing will never recover fully from the wounds that his presidency is inflicting on them.

  5. Mugabe kisses Grace JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images

    How Women Shape Coups

    In Zimbabwe, as in all coups, much behind-the-scenes plotting continues to take place in the aftermath of the military's overthrow of President Robert Mugabe. But who the eventual winners and losers are may depend, among other things, on the gender of the plotters.

  6. Oil barrels Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Getty Images

    The Abnormality of Oil

    At the 2017 Abu Dhabi Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, the consensus among industry executives was that oil prices will still be around $60 per barrel in November 2018. But there is evidence to suggest that the uptick in global growth and developments in Saudi Arabia will push the price as high as $80 in the meantime.

  7. Israeli soldier Menahem Kahana/Getty Images

    The Saudi Prince’s Dangerous War Games

    Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is working hard to consolidate power and establish his country as the Middle East’s only hegemon. But his efforts – which include an attempt to trigger a war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon – increasingly look like the work of an immature gambler.