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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Party primaries II



Fresh from their horrendous defeat at this year's federal election, Australia's Labor Party has held an election for their new leader, which Bill Shorten has won. He did with the support of the party's caucus, 63.95% of whom voted for Shorten, while his support among the ALP's 30,426 voting members was 40.08%, giving Shorten a total of 52.02%. The members and caucus have a 50:50 split in terms of choosing the leader.

Once again, a party within the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy has undertaken an election of its leader which included its membership. Even though the party membership's vote only counted for half of the votes (and ultimately didn't substantively affect the result), the important point is that prior to this leadership election they weren't involved. By its very name, the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government will be remembered for its continual leadership instability.

As The Australian notes, the new rules mean 60% of the caucus must vote against the sitting leader, and then go to a leadership election again involving the party membership. This means the leader of the party (and hence the PM, once the ALP eventually get back to the Treasury benches) has security of tenure, unless they're very destructive.