If you want to be elected president in the US, you better be married, have children and a religious affiliation. This has also been true in Australia. But today is national election day in Australia and Julia Gillard may break all the rules. She is a single woman who has never been married, does not plan to have children, and is a proclaimed atheist.
She is the current — and first female — prime minister of Australia, but was not elected to the position by a popular vote of the people. Last June she ousted the previous prime minister (Kevin Rudd) who lost support from the rest of the Labor Party (think Democrat) members of parliament.
She’s in a neck-and-neck battle with Tony Abbott, leader of the Liberal Party (think Republican — yes I know that Liberal and Republican seem like an oxymoron) who questions the monetary policies of the Labor Party and doesn’t believe that humans play a major role in climate change.
You might think that a high turnout of female voters compared to male voters will favor Gillard. But voting in Australia is mandatory or you are fined, so one cannot depend on the female electorate to elect a woman prime minister.
Like the British, the Australians do not directly elect their prime minister. The prime minister is the majority leader of the party with the most number of seats in the parliament. The polls show the race is so close, the vote may result in a “hung parliament,” much like what recently happened in Britain. If this happens, the Green Party (think environmentally and socially liberal) and other minor parties may determine the outcome of who is prime minister.
Check my next post for an update on the election results.