Compulsory Voting Essay

2097 words - 8 pages

Industrial Countries all over the world have seen a steady decline in voter participation; Great Britain is a great example of this. The country has witness turnout in elections falling slowly as time pass. However, the election of 2001 dropped the country from their average of 76% voter turnout to just a 59.4% turnout. Comparatively, Australia, a former colony of Britain, has enjoyed high and steady voter participation since 1924 because of the implementation of compulsory voting. This system has proven to be not only effective in bring voters to the polls, but also effective in improving Australia’s democracy. By evaluating these two countries with similar political structure; one can see the difference in compulsory voting turnouts compared to voluntary voting turnout. Furthermore, if Britain were to follow Australia’s example, would the country see the same positive effects of compulsory voting in their democracy?
Australia is a Constitutional Monarch with Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain as head of state. Politically the country is structured after the British and American model as a liberal democracy. The constitution created in 1901 “gives the Federal Government power over defense, foreign affairs, trade and commerce, taxation, customs and excise duties, pensions, immigration and postal services while other powers are held by the states” (“Australia’s Political Structure,” 2011). Furthermore, Australia consist a lower and upper house. The lower house, the House of Representatives, holds 150 members each elected in for a three-year term (“Australia’s Political Structure,” 2011). The upper house, the Senate, holds 76 members who have been directly elected through proportional representation for a six-year term (“Australia’s Political Structure,” 2011). On the contrary, the governor-general (on the advice of the prime minister) appoints the Cabinet members. However, it is not constitutionally recognized as a legal entity, therefore, giving its decisions no legal force.
The main parties of Australia are: the Labour Party, Liberal Party, National Party, and the Australian Democrats; these parties are voted in through a preferential system of voting (“Australia’s Political Structure,” 2011). All citizens over the age of 18 are required to vote for these parties because of compulsory voting (adopted in 1924). Australia followed many other democracies on there decision to implement compulsory voting during the 1920s. However, the country unusually added mandatory voting without other previsions (Birch, 2009). Australia was able to do so because of several strong factors supporting the measure.
The left (the Labour Party) had already used a form of social compulsion through trade unions getting their supporters to the polls. Bring in compulsory voting would rectify this imbalance between the left and the right votes (Birch, 2009). Furthermore, voters would no longer be in a position to demand transportation to the polls producing lower...

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