Thrills and Spills in Australia

These are rather interesting times in Australia, both at the federal and state and territorial level. Federally, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a leadership spill motion on Monday morning (which corresponds to 17:00 Sunday EST). His party caucus is increasingly unhappy with some of the policy decisions Abbott has taken of late, and the party is not polling well at all. In Australia, party caucuses can vote to depose the party leader, which is called a spill. You may recall the previous spills under the Labor government: first Julia Gillard led an ouster of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, then in the following parliament, Rudd ousted Gillard. For more information about leadership spills in Australia, I recommend the following articles: […]

Why Canadians should pay close attention to the UK election campaign

There will be a general election here in Canada in 2015, most likely in the fall. There is incessant speculation that the election may occur sooner than that, but as per our not-so-fixed election date, we will go to the polls in October. Before Canadians vote, there will be a general election in the UK, on May 7. And Canadians should be paying very close attention to the campaign and vote. Here are a few reasons why. 1. There will be debates. Probably. While leaders’ debates are old hat in Canada, the 2010 UK general election saw the first ever televised leaders’ debates. This time around, there are three debates scheduled. The first two (April 1 and 16) will feature […]

On MPs attendance and voting records

The Ottawa Citizen published an article looking at the voting records of MPs in the Canadian House of Commons. The main motivation behind this effort was to measure MP attendance in the House. The House of Commons does not keep attendance records of MPs and the reporters, Glen McGregor and Jason Fekete, admit that using MP voting records is a “very rough proxy”. Rough indeed. As the writers admit, the “percentage of votes attended or missed isn’t always indicative of general attendance in Parliament, because many votes are held on a single day.” Also worth noting, it’s not even a complete picture of an MP’s voting record since not all votes are recorded divisions. It is easy to understand why […]

Rethinking hung parliament outcomes

With a little less than five months to go until the next UK general election in May 2015, the general consensus amongst pundits and pollsters is that there will be another hung parliament. UK Parliamentary Election Forecast has been releasing daily seat projections based on polling trends. The most recent forecasts have predicted either a tie between the Conservatives and Labour, or else one of the two major parties marginally ahead by a handful of seats or less. In every instance, however, each party is well short of the 326 seats needed for a (one-seat) single party majority government. This reality has prompted a number of news articles and opinion pieces speculating on the problem of government formation following the […]

But let’s face it – reading through pages of House of Commons (or other assembly) debates online (or from a printed out PDF) is pretty dry stuff. Consequently, it isn’t surprising that many parliaments have been trying to make their online Debates pages more interesting and informative for the reader.

Innovations in Parliamentary Websites

As someone who regularly visits parliamentary websites — and by regularly, I mean several times a day, even on weekends — I can’t even begin to explain how deeply grateful I am for well-organized sites that allow to me easily navigate the site and quickly find whatever It is that I’m looking for. While many parliaments have put (and continue to put) a lot of effort into modernizing their web presence and trying to find the best ways to present the Parliament’s business, the truth of the matter is that a lot of parliamentary business tends to be rather static and dry. Much of the business of a legislature is debate, and yes, while it is great to be able […]

Party leadership selection: the NZ Labour Party

Readers may recall my four posts looking at various aspects of Canadian MP Michael Chong’s proposed Reform Act (if not, you can catch up: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, and Post 4). Mr. Chong has since significantly amended his bill in order to better its odds of being adopted by the House of Commons. Many political commentators believe he has rendered it rather pointless. As I discussed that final post on the Reform Act, many critics of the bill were concerned with the original provisions allowing a party caucus to trigger a confidence vote in the party leader. I would urge you to read Post 4 in its entirety in order to grasp this issue, but allow me to […]