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Comparing the American and Australian Political Systems

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Comparing the American and Australian Political Systems

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  1. Comparing the American and Australian Political Systems http://www.australianpolitics.com

  2. Introduction • Like Australia, the United States has a system of government that enshrines the idea of indirect democracy • Like Australia, the American system is based on principles of political equality, majority rule and the preservation of minority rights

  3. USA The United States is the oldest continuing democracy in the world today and one of the first to embrace the idea of popular sovereignty. However, it is relatively unique in the world with its emphasis on ideas of personal liberty

  4. Similarities – Federal System • Both are Federal systems (Federal and State governments) • Both have a parliament (called a congress in the US) composed of two houses – House of Representatives and a Senate • Both have a house that is popularly elected with electorate size determined by voting population

  5. Similarities - Senate • Both have a Senate that represents the States equally – 2 Senators per State in the US, 12 per State in Australia • Senators in both countries serve 6 year terms


  6. Similarities - Legislation • All legislation must be passed by both houses of parliament • Both have constitutions which delineate the powers of the Federal Government

  7. Similarities - Judiciary • Both have an independent judiciary (Supreme Court in US, High Court in Australia) which interprets the constitution and acts as a final court of appeals

  8. Differences • The US is a republic, whereas Australia is a constitutional monarchy

  9. Differences - Government • In Australia, the government (ministry, cabinet, executive is drawn from the parliament and responsible to it • In the US the Executive branch of government is independent of the congress and no person may be a member of congress and a minister simultaneously

  10. Differences - Leaders • The Australian Prime Minister is chosen by the elected members of the party/parties that have won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives • The US President is directly elected by the people and must appoint non-members of congress to fill ministerial posts

  11. Differences - Elections • Members of the Australian House of Representatives serve a 3 year term • US Members of the House serve 2 years • Elections in the US are on set days for fixed terms • Australian Prime Ministers may dissolve Parliament and call early elections

  12. Differences – Voting • Electoral enrolment and voting is compulsory in Australia. • Electoral enrolment and voting is voluntary in the US

  13. Differences – Party Discipline • Party discipline is “tight” in Australia. Most parliamentarians vote along party lines • In the US Party discipline is not as tight leading to a situation where members of both parties will often form an alliance and change voting alliances on legislation.

  14. Differences - Legislation • Legislation in the US requires both legislative approval and the President’s signature • In Australia legislation is automatically ratified by the Governor-General once passed by both houses