You know, it’s easy to get cynical about politics here in Australia – not least when our PM is making deals to help the US president fight his political enemies, or downplay the climate change which is already affecting Australia.
But you know what? We have it incredibly good compared to a lot of countries. For one thing, we get democracy sausages.
And for another, we’re not these countries:
1. The United States
The unfolding mess in the US is hard to sum up, but in a nutshell: evidence that Donald Trump tied defence aid to Ukraine to them doing him favours in uncovering (seemingly nonexistent) dirt on the son of likely Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has led to an almost inevitable impeachment by the Congress.
That, as we’ve explained, doesn’t mean that Trump will actually be removed from office (since the Republicans control the senate it’s definitely not going to happen unless the party turns on its president in an implausibly unprecedented way) but the scandal and Trump’s near-hysterical response is helping turn public sentiment against him, and the next US election is in just over a year and the campaigning has already begun.
Given that Trump’s always seemed to be immune to serious consequences, and that he’s now gleefully tweeting what looks horribly like incitement to civil war if he’s defeated at the polls, it’s hard to know what would be better: being stuck with him for another four years, or trying to reunite a riven country afterwards.
2. The United Kingdom
Hoo boy. So, as with certain other nations with “United” in the title, prime minister Boris Johnson was elevated to power on the grounds that he promised to do things which no-one else could do, and then proved exactly as unable to do them.
In Johnson’s case it was to get the European Union to make a killer deal with Britain which would make Brexit go smoothly and profitably and not be a complete clusterhump of a nightmare of a dumpster fire.
And while no new deal has emerged, and nor is there any reasonable sign of one appearing in the three weeks before Brexit is meant to occur, Johnson has managed to fracture his government with mass resignations and defections (including that of his own brother), divide his party and utterly fail to bring the EU to the negotiating table.
Oh, and he was found to have acted illegally in suspending parliament, so that’s a thing.
So bad has it gotten that all the other parties and a solid slab of Johnson’s fellow Conservatives in parliament are floating the possibility of forming an alternative government purely in order to postpone Brexit again, which may or may not be an option, in order to hold another election which may or may not also include a second go at that Brexit referendum.
After all, the first time went so well!
3. Hong Kong
Hong Kong used to belong to Britain, but when the UK handed it “back” to China in 1997 it was inevitable that the “one country, two systems” policy under which it operated – an independent judiciary, freedom of speech, religion and movement, non-state capitalism and so on – was going to cause some friction.
The current tensions began over the idea of Hong Kong holding democratic elections, which were a feature outlined in the handover document but have been ignored up until now, and the pro-democracy “umbrella movement” have been active for several years.
However, when Hong Kong’s chief executive announced that the government would start extraditing people to mainland China rather than trying them in HK, that started the city-choking demonstrations which have now been running since July.
Lam has withdrawn the bill, but the protestors’ demands have moved on to investigations into police violence and broader electoral reform – which Beijing seems unlikely to allow. Which might explain the military build up just outside HK’s borders.
Jakarta is now in its second week of protests by students who are furious at restrictive proposed changes to the criminal code (including that ban on extramarital sex which has got Bali tourists worried) and attempts to water down the powers of the Corruption Eradication Commission.
It’s part of the hardline agenda of the recently re-elected president Joko Widodo, who is currently attempting to placate his own government while claiming that the student protests are motivated by his political rivals.
The problem is that things are escalating, with deaths reported from protests in West Papua and fears that the increasingly heavy handed policing might lead to a repeat of the 1998 riots. not least, in Widodo’s eyes, because that contributed to the removal of President Suharto from power.
The nation doesn’t currently have a functioning government as President Martín Vizcarra has just suspended parliament altogether. And, again, it’s about corruption.
Peru has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals which have tainted the terms of the last three presidents, and Vizcarra promised reform – which has, he insists, been rejected by parliament, along with a call for a snap election.
The congress, for their part (which are controlled by Vizcarra’s opponents) , voted to suspend him and replace him with vice-president Mercedes Aráoz , but were told that since parliament had been suspended the vote was invalid.
There are pro- and anti-Vizcarra mobs gathering in Lima and concerns that things are about to kick off.
Really, they should all follow Australia’s lead. Less drama, more sausage, better outcomes. That’s what we’re about.