So Australia has a new Prime Minister today in Julia Gillard. Much
like the NSW State Government, the process went something like this:
Bad poll > panic > factional warlords organise spill > new leader.
Just like in NSW, this situation is closely followed by cries of "We
didn't elect this Prime Minister". Julia Gillard even referenced this
herself in her press conference after her caucus installation.
This was then followed by the more politically educated talking about
the Westminster system, and how we vote for our local member / party
representative, and that the majority party chooses their leader, and
thus the PM, in their own fashion.
The problem with this argument is that it's only technically true.
This is how the system is designed and how, on occasions like this, it
works. But it is NOT how election campaigns are fought, and it's not
how the general public perceives the political system. It is a
lamentable lack of civic education, but like it or not, until the
political parties behave otherwise, or the general political education
level of voters is increased, it is how the system will be interpreted
in the mainstream.
Aiming to expand knowledge is an honourable cause. Informing people of
how the system is designed and (on paper) works, is a noble fight. But
throwing ones hands up in exasperation at all "we didn't elect Julia",
or berating Gillard for her up-front disarming of the issue, only
serves to vent and does little to change perceptions.
So next time someone complains about not having "elected our PM",
inform them of the actual system, but don't berate them for simply
learning by the example of the major parties.