Australia and the Seven Prime Ministers

Cate Pollini


In The Formation of National Party Systems, the authors discuss party systems. The authors explain three concepts to analyze parties: first, party systems arise from divisions in society, second, parties emerge with collective societal change, that then form coalitions and third, party systems may arise from electoral rules or Duverger’s law. Durverger’s law is a government that favors a two-party system because of their plurality-rule elections and SMD run state. Regardless of this, parties are always seen to combine their political demands into policy, which is party aggregation.


Over the past eleven years, Australia has had seven prime ministers. To elected officials, Australia uses an alternative vote ballot in which voters rank candidates by preference. This narrows the race down to two major parties that will aggregate at the national level. Due to this voting structure, small parties are rarely ever able to gain seats in government. This relates to Duverger’s law because Australia favors a two-party system with their voting constituencies. This past year, Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull. The change in party leader relates to the importance of factions in the Australian government. The conservative factions believed their voice was not being heard because of the Liberal Party, so they called for an election in an attempt to govern themselves.


Are factions democratic if they are able to control major aspects of government such as elections?


In democracy’s purest form, all power is given to the people. Factions are instituted in governments so that people with the same interests are able to share their opinions and possibly form an identity in government. According to James Madison, the problem with factions is that not everyone will have the same opinion and if there is a majority it is not always democratic because the majority can be a faction. Instead, large republics should be formed because they can control factions by making decisions for the country.


PradeepChhibber and Ken Kollman. 2004. The Formation of National Party Systems: Federalism and Party Competition in Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. Princeton: Princeton University Text. 

Luke Mansillo. “Australia Has Had 7 Prime Ministers in Just 11 Years. Blame Its Quirky Election Laws.” The Washington Post. September 20, 2018. Accessed November 14, 2018.

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