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The charade of representative government

By Ad astra

Why do I use the term ‘charade’? Because I believe representative government is “an absurd pretence intended to create a pleasant or respectable appearance” about the concept of government of the people, for the people, by the people. This piece is an attempt to convince you of this charade, if indeed you need convincing at all. Given the seIf-evident nature of its content, I expect many of you will wonder why I have bothered to write this piece at all! I’m beginning to wonder likewise!

Let’s start with the concept of the ‘electorate’.

There are numerous references that explain electorates and electoral systems. Rather than go over established facts, my purpose is to focus on the flaws that beset our electoral system. Ace – The Electoral Knowledge Network is a sound source of information to which you may wish to refer for detailed information. Here is an extract:

The Importance of Electoral Systems

Political institutions shape the rules of the game under which democracy is practised, and it is often argued that the easiest political institution to manipulate, for good or for bad, is the electoral system. In translating the votes cast in a general election into seats in the legislature, the choice of electoral system can effectively determine who is elected and which party gains power. While many aspects of a country’s political framework are often specified in the constitution and can thus be difficult to amend, electoral system change often only involves new legislation and can thus be subject to manipulation by an unscrupulous majority.

Even with each voter casting exactly the same vote and with exactly the same number of votes for each party, one electoral system may lead to a coalition government or a minority government while another may allow a single party to assume majority control.

Don’t we know that all too well!

Moreover, we have seen the allocation of preferences used in a way which has seen individuals elected who have received almost no votes at all.

Suppose we lived in Dickson, Peter Dutton’s electorate. Only LNP supporters would have voted for him. Yet he is there to represent everyone in Dickson. If we were able to have an appointment with him, and if we expressed our dismay that our federal government had no policy to reduce carbon emissions, that its leader expressly rejects the need to have a target to do so, and that we are seriously concerned about the effect of increasing emissions on global warming and its catastrophic potential for worldwide devastation, how would he respond?

Would he argue that climate science is flawed? Would he try to convince us that the ‘warmists’ are deluded, that they belong to a strange cult that is out of touch with reality? How could he represent us if his beliefs were diametrically opposed to ours?

Herein is the fundamental flaw in representative government. It always has been.

Indeed this is democracy’s fundamental flaw. As Winston Churchill famously said way back in November 1947: ”Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.

How then should we regard what we like to believe is representative government? All of us live under its spell. Your opinion forms part of what we know is a seriously complex system. Please let us have your opinion. Enrich our understanding.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. leefe

    Proportional representation is fairer than the electorate system. Which is one reason we will never get it. 🙁

  2. Andrew J. Smith

    One could add the strategy of encouraging voter disengagement on real issue but frothing at the mouth on non sociocultural issues, e.g. all things immigration, plus the other old tropes as targets of people venting their spleens.

    However, on the other hand, it also shows up Australians own apathy and passive attitudes towards power and authority….. seem happy to take on board whatever sound bites and messaging legacy media promotes…. ‘too easy’.

  3. ajogrady

    Democracy is being gamed by big media and played to benefit big business. If businesses pay large amounts of money to “influencers” to gain advantage over their competition then how much is the influence of the media outlets of Murdoch, 7 and 9 worth to the L/NP? Advertising with these media outlets should be counted as political donations to the L/NP.

  4. Williambtm

    Just as you say ajogrady, democracy in Australia is as good as fuched. The lies begin from the likes of Scomo, then as the L/NP gringo’s do, then down through their ministers and to the mainstream media. Australia’s mainstream media is culpable in engaging in treachery at the behest of this nil policy political party against the people of Australia.
    “To hell with the facts and the truth say this current Federal government, we got the next election to win, so come up with some good new Bullscitt for the mainstream media, to hurl out among the voters. “That last sentence ain’t intended to do anything but to tell it as it is.

    That kind of L/NP chicanery was put into practice by that lying bastard J W Howard, him and his “no it was not a core promise” schitt.

    Expect nothing else when it comes to the announcement for the next Federal election. There is an enormous amount of Australia’s GDP revenues being siphoned out of the treasury by this lot of traitorous lying bastards to add to their electioneering expenditure; in other words, there will be no money spared, “we just got to do this to make sure we win the next election.” Once that’s achieved, it will back to business, same as last time.

  5. Andrew Chambers

    We have no Democracy. It is necessarily qualified with Representative.
    Representation is no longer of the voter but of the party.
    The Party isn’t a vehicle for public engagement, it is the means to attaining and holding power.
    Power is the license given by business to create and legislate laws, print or restrict the cash supply and deliver necessary services to business, and by dissipation, the voters.
    The voters simply make a choice once every election between #2parties1system0choice and deliver an electoral dictatorship guaranteed by the mark of a pencil on paper.
    We have no Democracy.

  6. Glenn Wilson

    A solution is to do it the ‘Indi’ way. A good candidate who is ethical, honest and moral, a good team of interested and active volunteers behind that candidate and a team ethos of ‘the lower they go, the higher we go’ and the likes of Sophie Mirabella are shown the door. It works for us and any other community/electorate who wishes to take back control.

  7. andy56

    Andrew Chambers, you hit it in one. The premise of the article is sound. Once in three years we decide who will govern. The rest of the time we act like good catholics, pay lip service till christmas day. The way we use the word democracy has been distorted till it is just a sham. The gay marriage referendum we had just proved what a farce it is. The way they lie about climate change, proves they dont want to tell the truth, only what gets them back in. May the wall be a long one.

  8. corvusboreus

    Effective representative democracy requires a reasonably informed populace.
    Most of our media is owned by a cancerous hemorrhoid.
    We keep electing bullshitting phuqknuckles.
    Go figure.

  9. Frank Smith

    Do away with “The Party” so all candidates are independents.
    Do away with all “donations” and provide candidates with very modest election spending from the Public Purse.
    Do away with staffers and use the Public Service as it was intended.

  10. Ad Astra


    I thank you once again for your informed comments. You have added nuances to this piece that have greatly enhanced its value.

    It is so gratifying to read your contributions to this serious topic.

  11. wam

    Not a great film, adastra, but a good one, like your post. Is democracy not the control of an organization or group by the majority of its members? Only, lord, talks about not expecting to remain in power and only labor believes him. Fortunately, we use a preference system to ensure each vote is involved in the selection system. Consequently in the lower house every representative secures over 50%. However, in the senate for a half election only 14.3%, in a DD just over 7%, will get a senator. The abrogation of voter preferences to a party distribution of preferences allows the election of extremist representatives who attract low first preferences but end up having huge influence way above their votes. Is there anyone here who can’t see the extremists as being over represented in comparison to their followers? Liberal (31) National (5) Labor (26) Crossbench (14) Greens (9) One Nation (2) Centre Alliance (1) Lambie Network (1) Patrick Team (1)

  12. Gardiner Twee

    The public vote for policies that by and large get ignored anyway. It might be worth trialing Swiss style referenda. At least it would be more obvious what the public want and what the party of the day is sabotaging, plus a Referenda website with results would sideline MSM manipulation of the narrative.

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