A study in democracy: Candidate selection for the parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

Johns, Gary Thomas (2001). A study in democracy: Candidate selection for the parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia PhD Thesis, School of Political Science and International Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Johns, Gary Thomas
Thesis Title A study in democracy: Candidate selection for the parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science and International Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2001-07-03
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Ian Ward
Total pages 208
Collection year 2001
Language eng
Subjects 360101 Australian Government and Politics
360199 Political Science not elsewhere classified
Formatted abstract There is a strong case to insist that the major Australian political parties have an obligation to the electorate to select their candidates for public office democratically. That obligation may arise if the Australian party system demonstrates restricted electoral competition and if the Australian political parties are, in some ways, public property. Competition between candidates representing political parties is usually regarded as a central feature of a liberal democracy. Where competition between parties fails to provide the public with an effective choice of candidates, the real competition between candidates is displaced to a competition for party endorsement within particular parties. If the real political competition occurs within the parties, it may be argued that the same standards of democratic practice as apply in general elections, should apply to the parties. They may even have an obligation to submit their selection processes to external scrutiny.

If the major Australian parties are, however, wholly private associations, it may be difficult to insist on the imposition of public standards of performance. There may be risks to the freedom of association currently enjoyed by the parties, should external standards apply. A compromise is to provide for external scrutiny of the parties, without insisting on particular standards of behaviour.

These arguments rely on an analysis of electoral competition in Australia, of the status of Australian parties and of the current performance of the parties in the selection of candidates. Each of these is analysed and the evidence is presented. An improved democratic performance on the part of the parties may improve competition between the parties and preserve the greatest strength of the present party system—its stability.
Keyword Politicians -- Australia
Political parties -- Australia
Representative government and representation -- Australia
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