Was Hugo Chavez a Dictator? Some argue he’s won several elections, some by landslide, so that immediately rules out such qualification. He hasn’t, unlike his idol and mentor Fidel Castro, executed any dissidents by firing squad, so maybe he’s not quite there.
Venezuelan farmer Franklin Brito protested the invasion of his property by Chavistas groups (the government calls is an “expropriation”, in the name of Revolution) by going on a hunger strike, which was not only ignored but ridiculed by the regime. Brito died in the end, so can that be called some sort of execution?
But was he a ‘champion of Democracy and social justice’, like many in the left call him? He always showed passion for the poor, and indeed introduced a number of initiatives that seemed to give them more voice in Venezuelan society. And yes, Hugo Chavez is truly loved by many Venezuelans. But what’s the cost?
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I’ve always thought compulsory voting was okay, because the government is going to raise money somehow and the fine for not voting is one of few revenue raising activities I know I can avoid.
I was surprised by the criticism of the Queensland Government’s discussion paper opening up the possibility of, amongst ten other possible reforms, voluntary voting. I had no idea how dearly so much of the Australian population treasured being forced to trundle down to the local school 3 times every 3-4 years to stuff a ballot box.
Granted, I had no hard statistical data to back my theory up. My hypothesis of the public’s opinion was merely a concoction of anecdotal evidence.
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So some of the more optimistic supporters of the ALP are clinging on to Labor’s narrow victory in the state by-election in Melbourne at the weekend as evidence things for the party are not as bad as they could be.
The Greens, on the other hand, are crowing about their primary vote, claiming a moral victory even if Labor pulled through on preferences. They can argue it out among themselves - because it seems the rest of us are not listening.
In fact even the prospect of a $70 fine wasn’t enough to persuade one third of registered voters in Melbourne to bother turning up. So much for compulsory voting.
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Lined up at the voting booths before the last federal election, a guy in front of me loudly announced to his mate: “I’m just going to draw a gigantic cock on the paper.”
Opponents of compulsory voting tend to argue that’s not the only way people makes dicks of themselves with their ballot papers. You often hear people argue that compulsory voting forces people uninterested in politics to donkey vote or vote for who they like the most, rather than a party’s policies.
People like Anders Holmdahl, a South Australian resident who took his quibble with compulsory voting to the SA Supreme Court yesterday, have a problem with the fact that voting is defined as both a right and a duty in different parts of Australian law.
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Self-identity - who you are, what your values are and what you believe - is critical to success in any society, whether it is cultural, sporting, professional or political.
Without a firm understanding of who you are, it is very difficult to present a point of view or know where you stand on a particular topic.
Not knowing or recognising your cultural heritage will suppress your purpose throughout life.
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The new paradigm has begun to play mind games with our federal MPs. Yesterday nobody was quite sure what was expected of them. At times it was a little embarrassing to watch, like some awkward kid consistently dancing out of time at the Rock Eisteddfod
Manager of Opposition Business and chief prosecutor in the case of Gillard v the BER Christopher Pyne copped the worst of it. Pyne didn’t ask for a division on a vote that would have forced a judicial inquiry into the Government’s BER spending. A vote the Coalition lost. Awkward.
No matter, Pyne plans to introduce his bill into the Senate after a session with the choreographer on Thursday afternoon.
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When the political history of 2010 is written, every element of the closest election in a generation will be rightly scrutinized. The winning side will get home by a hair’s breadth but could it be hair that determines the result?
Because there is a minority group whose natural connection with their chief advocate did not translate into votes on August 22 Australia’s rangas turned on Julia Gillard at the moment she needed their support most.
Exclusive hair-based research from the Punch shows that redheads turned their locks away from Gillard, being the least likely hair coloured group to support the ALP.
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I don’t mind admitting, I was excited when I rocked up to the polling booth. I was voting in Melbourne and Greens candidate Adam Bandt was favourite to win with the bookies.
There was no incumbent, this wasn’t a safe Liberal or Labor seat. No matter who I voted for, I felt like my vote could really make a difference.
I got my first How To Vote card from the kindly old Democrat volunteer and couldn’t help but notice they’d given their 3rd preference to the candidate from the Australian Sex Party. Way to go Democrats. I had no idea you guys were into that kind of Party!
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This year’s election campaign has cast a cloud of sadness and disillusionment over Australian politics and therefore Australian society. With the final countdown well and truly under way we are left hoping for the best in dire circumstances.
A lot of the events over the last few weeks have looked like crass politics, but why are we so surprised?
Has election time in Australia really always been this dismal? This election will be the first where I will be able to vote officially in Australia. I was in London for the 2007 election and voted at the Australian embassy.
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There are some things that can’t be measured. Like one vote one value; a government of the people, by the people, for the people. And the audacity, idiocy and hypocrisy of Mark Latham.
The former Labor Leader should face charges for using his platform on 60 Minutes to incite Australians to forgo their democratic right.
In Burma, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest, fighting for her people to have a say in their future. In Iran, Neda Agha-Soltan died protesting against the fraudulent election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The ongoing struggle for democracy across Africa – from Nigeria to Zimbabwe – has claimed millions of lives. Aside from the Eureka Stockade, which some historians consider the birthplace of Australian democracy, we’ve never had to risk our lives for freedom.
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If you are a political junkie like me, chances are you found Sunday night’s debate a little like watching a nil-nil draw without even the climax of the penalty shoot-out. About the only thing more boring than the debate is the pundits who say the debate was boring.
It’s the curse of Australian elections, if you are engaged in politics and have a defined set of ideological values, then the campaign has very little to do with you.
Put another way, if you are reading The Punch the parties don’t really care what you think.
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They had the decency to give them a turn, but after thousands of years of patriarchy working so well they should have known better. They brought home the bacon; we cooked it. They fought off the lions and tigers so we could raise our offspring in safety.
But a little while ago, following years of nagging by those insufferable suffragettes, they caved – men finally gave women the vote.
After watching the gendered worm on Nine’s coverage of the debate however, I have to say: what the hell were men thinking? It looks like giving the ladies a few democratic rights was a mistake on par with offering an honest answer to the question, “Does my bum look big in this?”
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IF you happened to be walking through the Eastland shopping centre in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs on Friday morning, you might have witnessed a bit of old school political campaigning.
Eastland is at the heart of Ringwood and Ringwood is at the heart of Deakin, the second most marginal seat in Victoria, currently held by a sharpish young bloke from the Labor party, Mike Symon.
Friday was a big day for Mike. He opened his new campaign digs, inflated several hundred balloons bearing his name and handed out ham and cheese sandwiches with a grin. And for just a short while, he got to bask in the tanning salon kissed glow of a Labor big gun, on loan to kick things along in a seat looking a bit shaky.
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Coalition Senator Michael Ronaldson decries the current mixed funding system of elections in his post on the Punch last week.
Early last year the newly elected Government introduced the Commonwealth Electoral Amendments (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2009 to the Senate to make political donations more transparent. However the bill was defeated by Liberal Senators who did not want to clean up our campaign finance system.
Australia has a very clean electoral system by world standards. While we don’t hear complaints in Australia that elections have been rigged, the funding system is in need of some reform.
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They take on the privileges of Australian citizenship with little real knowledge of, or attachment to, our key values and institutions.
I’m not talking about migrants, who at least have to pass a minimum test for citizenship.
I’m talking about young Australians who are ‘born’ into citizenship and who receive the full privileges of a citizen on their eighteenth birthday.
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Theodore Roosevelt once said “A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user”.
As the national voting age is again a topic of debate, thanks to a recent Government Green Paper on electoral reform, these are words that we should pause to consider.
At what age is it likely a voter will carefully consider and target their vote instead of just shoot from the hip as they wander into their local polling booth? Some may say never…
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The confession box may be losing favour, but when it comes to the ballot box your idea of God still has big impact on how you vote.
If you are Catholic you are nearly twice as likely to love Kevin, if you are an Anglican you can still stomach Malcolm and if you believe in nothing, then you’re more likely to believe in Bob.
That’s the conclusion to the Punch’s first installment in our Taboo-Busters series, where we look at politics through the prism of topics that are off limits to polite society.
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I appreciate that our attention is elsewhere as we wait to see, to paraphrase Mal Farr, whether the Treasurer takes a Swan dive off the back of Kev’s ute. But as all of this was going on a report into the conduct of the last election was tabled in the parliament last night.
Nelson Mandela said there is no easy walk to freedom. Those in Iran, Iraq, Burma and Zimbabwe and any number of others striving to join the league of truly democratic nations would agree.
As one of the oldest democracies in the world, I wonder whether our passion for this most prized of personal freedoms is growing cold and whether what Richard Dreyfuss has to say in the video about democracy lost in the US (see video www.tinyurl.com/democracylost) reflects our own challenges.
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