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Arnie Schwarzenegger moves on

By jardinier ·
There is a lot of speculation as to what Arnie will do when he steps down as Governor of California.

I would be very interested to hear opinions from Americans and especially Californians as to the quality of his work as Governor.

Compared to US governors in general, was he good, average, poor? I do know that California was in a pretty bad way when he took the job.

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ineffective

by john.a.wills In reply to Arnie Schwarzenegger move ...

The legislature is a tangle of overlapping and sometimes conflicting flows of demand and response. Arnold could not unpick well enough to get what he wanted done, and the crazy people did not back him up in plebiscites. Our probable next governor, Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown, has a much greater understanding of which strings to pull and of adjusting the politicking process. Also, two constitutional changes, one passed and one on the upcoming ballot, may make it easier for sane politics to get through the tangle.

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So you are saying ....

by jardinier In reply to ineffective

that Arnie did the best he could in the circumstances. Am I interpreting you correctly?

But he had no prior political experience. At least Ronald Reagan had some experience as president of the Screen Actor's Guild. Not big-time politics of course, but some similarity in procedures.

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more or less...

by john.a.wills In reply to So you are saying ....

Arnie is still doing the best he can in his circumstances, according to his lights, which are not necessarily mine - for instance he line-vetoed child-care expenses in the budget, something he can do. In Australia, I understand, there is more party loyalty, and in any case the prime minister always has a majority in parliament, so he has more clout. Furthermore, the PM has come up through the party ranks and has made cronies of many politicians, something Arnie has not been able to do due to his different history. Jerry Brown has been in party politics for a long time now, and should be able to manage things more effectively.

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Big confusion about Australian politics.

by jardinier In reply to more or less...

Hi John. The Australian equivalent of US Governor is Premier, who is leader of a State Government. At present in my state of NSW it is a female, Kristina Keneally. For good measure we also have a female Governor General, Ms Quentin Bryce.

On the Federal scene, forget "Party loyalty." In the Labor Party it is all about factions (left-wing, right-wing etc). The factions are much more interested in getting their person in, than in winning an election.

If I understand you correctly, I am surprised and horrified to learn that you do not know that our Prime Minister Julia Gillard is leading a minority government, with a few independents and our first Greens MHR, keeping her just one seat ahead of the conservative opposition (Liberal/National Parties).

There was a lot of negotiation on the part of the independents as to which party they would support. As it is, one or more may at any time cross the floor and vote against the government.

Currently the Government has a minority in the Senate, but will have a majority (in league with Greens and independents) in July, 2011, when the new Senate takes over.

It is 70 years since we last had a minority government in Canberra.

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Questions.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Big confusion about Austr ...

What's the difference between a state Premier and a Governor General?

If factions are about getting their person in, how do they do it if not by winning elections?

What's a minority government?

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Poli Sci major coming through

by JamesRL In reply to Questions.

Australia and Canada, as part of the British Commonwealth, inherit much of our political systems from Britain.

A Govenor General (and Lt. Governors in the provinces in Canada) are appointed positions. In theory they are the monarchs representatives. They are to be neutral politically, and have a few functions. They read the speech from the throne to open Parliament (written by the party in power). They are the titular head of the armed forces. They call elections (usually the Prime Minister makes the request of the GG). In the rare instance of a constituional issue regarding Parliament, they make the call (happens rarely). They cut a lot of ribbons and make a lot of speeches. The Party in power tells the Queen who their choice is.

A Premier is like a governor.

A minority government is one where no one party has 50%+1 seats in Parliament. It means that to get anything done, they need to work with other parties. Sometimes they make formal coalitions, sometimes they just wing it. The government will fall if they lose a vote on a money bill (Budgets etc). The Canadian Government has been running under a minority since 2006.

Parties in our system have various factions, as they do in the US. Some factions spend more energy on winning power within the party, even when it means it makes the party look bad, which in turn hurts their chances in a general election.

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Follow-up

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Poli Sci major coming thr ...

"The government will fall ..."

I'm positive you aren't talking about a revolution, but I've got no other point of reference for this phrase. What happens in that case?

While our parties have factions, I'm not with you on 'winning within the party'. It's possible for a 'fringe' faction's candidate to win a primary over a more 'mainstream' candidate, and then go on to lose in the general election against the other party's candidate. (We only have two national parties.) I don't think we have an equivalent to 'winning within the party', but I'm not clear enough on the concept to say.

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Reply to follow up

by JamesRL In reply to Poli Sci major coming thr ...

With regards to the government falling, its like this. We traditionally don't have fixed terms for the length of a government. A majority government traditionally goes as long as 6 years, but if they want to call it earlier, they can and do. In a minority government on the other hand, if the government looses a vote on a money bill, like the budget, there is no choice but to have an election called immediately.

As for the factions, the difference is this; we don't elect a Prime Minister separately. The PM is the head of the governing party. So getting the leader of the party's job is all party insiders stuff. I've been involved full time on some of those leadership campaigns. They can be pretty nasty, as nasty as general elections, and even moreso at times. Only paid up party members get to vote for the leader. Some parties still have conventions where every consituency sends deligates, others have gone to a one member one vote system.

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Thanks.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Poli Sci major coming thr ...

Your replies have been very informative.

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Some clarifications regarding Australia

by jardinier In reply to Poli Sci major coming thr ...

Thank you James. The Governor-General is more than a titular figure in Australia as we discovered in 1975 when he (John Kerr) sacked the Whitlam Labor Government. This was because the Senate, controlled by the Opposition, deferred passing money bills. Normally this would have forced the PM Whitlam to call an election, which he did not do. Subsequently the GG sacked the Government.

Incidentally in regard to another matter, the Opposition can do two things to cripple the Government.

1. Block supply (money) bills.
2. Pass a vote of no-confidence in the Government, which is then obliged to call an election.

The current Australian set-up is quite fragile as it requires only one or two of the independents to cross the floor and vote with the Opposition and hence force an election.

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