Comparing the American and Australian Political Systems
Comparing the American and Australian Political Systems http://www.australianpolitics.com 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 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
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 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 Similarities Legislation All legislation must be passed by both houses of parliament Both have constitutions which
delineate the powers of the Federal Government 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 Differences
The US is a republic, whereas Australia is a constitutional monarchy 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 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 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 Differences Voting Electoral enrolment and voting is compulsory in Australia.
Electoral enrolment and voting is voluntary in the US 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. Differences Legislation Legislation in the US requires both legislative approval and the Presidents signature
In Australia legislation is automatically ratified by the Governor-General once passed by both houses
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