America’s dysfunctional political system is enough to turn some Australians away from a republic

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Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, discussion has resurfaced over the future of Australia and other kingdoms that still count the British monarch as their ruler. This debate is likely to intensify as the decorum surrounding Her Majesty’s funeral on September 19 dissipates.

While the Queen’s passing may seem like the perfect opportunity to break with the monarchy, support for a republic in Australia has actually plummeted in recent years. These trends may be driven by Australians’ views of the United States and its democratic woes more than an increase in our attachments to Britain.

The queen’s death may have been the time to move towards a republic, but support actually dwindled.Credit:Getty Images

Particularly striking, recent polls find that Australians between the ages of 18 and 34 are the age group least likely to favor a break with the Crown. This gives a hint that the reluctance to become a republic is not primarily a matter of cultural traditionalism. In Britain, many people not only feel a deep affection for the Queen, but also an identification with the traditions of the monarchy, a feeling cultivated by a royal media machine that keeps the institution continually visible in public life.

Because the monarchy maintains a bygone image of the UK as overall powerful and nationally unified, older Britons are much more more likely than the youngest to support its maintenance. While such sentiments also exist in Australia, anti-republicanism is more often based on a pragmatic fear of the possible outcomes of alternative modes of government.

Australians have long tended to view our policy in relation to the United States. Since the last republican referendum in 1999, Australians have seen US Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump ridiculed around the world and the US Congress become hyper-polarised. The Capitol riot of January 6, 2021 and the ongoing movement to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election have further underscored America’s democratic woes.

For some Australians, the social division and political dysfunctions plaguing the United States may be reason enough to avoid the prospect of an Australian president. Compared, for example, to the constitutional monarchies of Scandinavia, the American republic looks like a hopeless case.

Some Australians may have been discouraged from having a republic by the dysfunctionality under Donald Trump in the United States.

Some Australians may have been discouraged from having a republic by the dysfunctionality under Donald Trump in the United States.Credit:Bloomberg

While the concern over an American-style republic is understandable, it’s important to keep in mind the unique underlying causes of America’s problems. For example, the US Constitution requires the president to be nominated through an electoral college, a system that allowed George W. Bush and Donald Trump to claim the position while losing the national popular vote.

The Constitution calls on the legislatures of each state to draw their own electoral districts, which encourages the “gerrymandering” of districts in favor of one party and thus facilitates the government of minorities. States also have wide leeway in determining voting eligibility, which has led to the disenfranchisement of many people with criminal records and those without ID. specific or of stable address.


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