It is 10pm, September 14, 2015 and I am visiting family in Sydney, Australia. Something just happened 15 minutes ago that would, with good reason, shock any American.
Australia's prime minister, Tony Abbot, was challenged by someone in his own liberal party, Malcolm Turnbull, to become the new prime minister today. Within 8 hours of Turnbull announcing his challenge, and a vote of 100 government people, the entire country of Australia just got saddled with a new prime minister they didn't elect.
Let me repeat. He wasn't elected by the people. This wasn't even a presidential (or prime minister) election time. Nothing led up to this. Completely out of the blue, the Australian people were informed this afternoon that Turnbull would be contesting the leadership of the party because he believed that prime minister Abbott was incapable of 'providing the economic leadership the country needs'.
While I was in the car this afternoon I briefly heard it on the radio. In between extensive radio talk of The Bachelor and X Factor the radio show hosts quickly threw in that they may have a new prime minister by tonight. It happened so fast, and they barely touched on it, I thought it was a joke.
Within 8 hours of this announcement, the Liberal party of Australia voted Malcolm Turnbull as the Liberal Party Leader 54 votes to Abbot's 44.
This wasn't an impeachment of any kind for Tony Abbott. Turnbull randomly contested him and his party decided to hold a vote. That's all. For the leadership of the entire country. I'm surprised they even bother to hold citizen elections. How inauthentic and disingenous must elections seem if the people vote in one person and the government can change it on a whim.
Even if Australians weren't loving the job that Abbot was doing, unless Abbot committed a crime, I can't see why it seems at all free, reasonable, or democratic to have 100 government officials vote in a new prime minister within hours of announcing. This government is closely reminiscent of authoritarian.
Interestingly, the last time I was in Australia it was during the elections when they voted in Tony Abbott. I remember thinking that all the people running were all big government liberals. There wasn't any politician representing smaller government, lower taxes, less regulations, freedom, free markets, etc....nothing like that. Australians must like high taxes and politicians running the show. At least, that's what it looks like to this outsider.