While Australia was busy voting, 50 million light-years away, with Shakespearean flair, a “galactic supervolcano” erupted in galaxy M87 spewing out jets of energetic particles suppressing the formation of hundreds of millions of new stars.
Could it have suppressed the formation of a new Government?
From one of the most bland election campaigns waged in Australian political history comes a compelling result: a hung parliament.
Australia’s closest postwar election has left neither Labor nor the Liberal / National Coalition able to pass legislation in the lower house without at least three other votes. The postal vote and pre-poll vote count continues and will take days, if not weeks.
Three independent MPs (or “The Three Kingmakers” as the Australian media are calling them), Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott, hold the balance of power in this hung parliament. Currently, these men, with left-leaning Country Party style agendas, are the three most powerful men in Australia.
The Greens achieved unprecedented success in this election. They will have nine Senate seats from July next year and have won their first House of Representatives seat in a federal election.
As Bernard Keane wrote for Crikey, “the most important question for the Greens now is how much of [the] 3.6% swing in the House of Reps and 3.9% swing in the Senate was driven by disillusionment with Labor, and how much was genuine attraction to the Greens, and therefore more likely to be long-lasting.”
Disillusionment was certainly present at this election. The Australian Electoral Commission has reported a rise in informal votes, with more than 5.6% of voters unable—or unwilling—to fill out their ballots correctly, a rise of 1.69% on the 2007 election, although as counting continues, that figure could change.
This, in stark contrast to the bombings, mortar rounds and grenades that claimed at least 36 lives, as Iraqis voted on Sunday to decide who will lead the country after U.S. forces pull out, in an election that will determine whether Iraq can overcome the jagged sectarian divisions that have defined it since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Sort of puts democracy and the right to vote in perspective, no?