‘Coup-culture’ undermines Australian democracy

16 FEBRUARY 2015

Focusing on the leader, rather than the government, is undermining our democratic standards and fostering a deeper cynicism about politics, according to CSU political scientist, Dr Troy Whitford.

Focusing on the leader, rather than the government, is undermining our democratic standards and fostering a deeper cynicism about politics, according to Charles Sturt University (CSU) political scientist, Dr Troy Whitford.

A politics lecturer at CSU's School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Wagga Wagga, Dr WhitfDr Troy Whitfordord said the 'political coup-culture' was recently seen in the motion to spill the federal Liberal leadership.

"I object to leadership challenges in government because it is part of the encroachment of presidential style politics which is incompatible with how leaders in our democracy actually operate," he said.

"In Australia we vote for parties not presidents.  The Prime Minister or Premier is considered the first among equals. The success or failure of a government is in the hands of its cabinet not individual leadership.

"Yet, over recent years we have seen political campaigns focus on leaders. It has gone to the extent some people actually think they are voting for the party leader not local member or party."

Dr Whitford argues this desire to run presidential style campaigns has led us to focus on the individual rather than the party and performance of cabinet. 

 

"What is harmful is the new development that when government or cabinet is faltering it singles out the leader and will sacrifice them for another parliamentary term," said Dr Whitford.

"In reality nothing actually changes because it is the performance of the whole cabinet that is often the problem.

"It is a general fear of change in popular opinion seems to be the catalyst for coups which also shows a lack of fortitude in our governments.

"This coupled with blatant ambition and impatience of politicians it what is causing the problem and degrading the importance of democracy as a means to peacefully allocate resources.

"It is also being used by overly ambitious politicians to seek an office they may not have won in a clear election.

"We need to make sure the voter is central to changes in leadership and government. These political coups are diminishing the power of the vote".

Media contact:

Ms Emily Malone and Ms Fiona Halloran, (02) 69332207


Media Note:

Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews

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