I haven’t done something I normally do in the morning after an election and that is read the paper. In the wake of the ALP’s victory in 2007 I scoured through all the newspapers picked out my favourite columnists and chose quotes that I thought would accurately describe the mood I was feeling. My mood now, is one of emptiness. The reality is that we still don’t know who will be Prime Minister for the next three years and we probably won’t for at least a week.
The sense of impending doom I thought I would feel if the ALP lost hasn’t arrived. Perhaps its because the result is by no means definitive yet. I’m certainly not the most knowledgeable political scientist in the country but I like to think that I have some sort of specialised knowledge in the area of interpreting election results. We are no closer to determining the result than when the polls closed last night. In short I have no idea what will happen next.
Whatever the result and whoever forms government the Australian democracy is in complete and utter chaos. Gillard ran the most disappointing ALP campaign since 1996, and has demonstrated a lack of intellectual and tactical nous that is required to be an effective political leader. Tony Abbott, meanwhile, ran a surprisingly good campaign, but in doing so completely neutered is own personality that it has now become devoid of any distinctive leadership qualities. The lack of leadership is only magnified when it is you consider that it is ultimately up to the 5 people who will decide who forms government and they have nothing to choose from.
The last time an election result indicated similar results was in the late 1930s when Menzies was elected Prime Minister the first time. Halfway through his parliamentary term the two independents that held the balance of power shifted their allegiances to the ALP and its parliamentary leader John Curtin. When the Prime Minister is decided in the next few days, don’t be surprised if their opponent succeeds them during the course of this parliamentary term.
Do we get the democracy we vote for? Perhaps. This result more than ever is indicative of the campaign that proceeded it. Both major parties were uninspiring with leaders who lacked both conviction and purpose. So I guess its only fitting that the Australian electorate has said ‘Well fuck you both’.