Nothing is really changing politically in Berlin. To begin with, Germany’s socialists are currently in a coalition with the conservatives, forming an immense majority in parliament. The coalition has slowed down public spending cuts and reforms enacted by the previous government. The German Left is at risk of fading into irrelevance as its choices regarding coalitions are limited: it’s either Merkel once again or going down the road of a three-party coalition.
In this post-crisis economy, Berlin shouldn’t be interested in who organizes a government reshuffle in September, but should instead be concerned with how a freer economy can unleash the potential of hard-working Germans.
Germany’s historic free-market champion, former conservative politician Ludwig Erhard, should serve as a role model for the ideological emptiness of contemporary German politics. Erhard is known to be responsible for the most extensive period of economic deregulation in modern times. Instead of following the temptation of slowly moving towards more economically interventionist policies, Berlin should follow Erhard’s example who believed that, instead of central planners, individuals should decide a country’s future.
Australia’s voting system needs a shake-up. That’s the message that has been emanating from the political class, since a disparate group of micro-parties were elected in 2013.
Such calls have now spread to the state level, with The Age reporting on the pressure for reform within both of Victoria’s major parties.
The major parties are concerned by the election of minor and micro-party MPs, whose presence makes it harder for them to govern. This has led to a range of proposed reforms designed to reduce the presence of minor parties.
But there is one reform that’s not being discussed, the re-introduction of voluntary voting.
Voluntary voting existed in Australian until 1924 (on the federal level). Since then, voting in Australia has been compulsory, with non-compliance leading to a $20 fine (and ultimately much tougher court imposed sanctions).
Unlike proposals to toughen registration requirements, impose thresholds, or move to optional preferential voting (which does have its merits), voluntary voting would solve the problem at the heart of Australian politics: that major parties are failing to represent their constituents.
Forcing people to vote means that major parties are able to ignore their political base—who can be relied on to preference them above major competitors. As a result, elections are decided by an increasingly small number of swing voters in marginal seats.