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22 Aug 2010

2010 Federal Elections: Voters Backlash, Hung Parliament Looms

Election campaigning in Australia is nothing like it is back home. No blaring noise on the streets, no traffic jams caused by campaigners, no posters splattered across the city and most importantly, no frenzied preparations for security on election day to stop offenders. You might think then that it is easy to move from one day to another without even noticing that the elections are here. Not so.

There is persistent campaigning on the telly. Every few minutes, on every channel, you see a few seconds of each party slagging the other. You simply cannot miss it or turn away. Very soon, you know that the Labour party has overspent last year's budget, Tony Abbot has screwed up workplace relations and so on. Of all the adverts I've watched, there is only one that carries a positive message - the one where Mr. Abbot spells out the Opposition's contract for Australians. His promise to repay Labour's debts, stop the boats and such ones. The rest tell you why not to vote for the other party and you are to assume that it is reason enough to vote for them.

So the Opposition has made an attempt to talk about something that they will do. Yet, it is Ms Gilliard who appears to lead the popularity chart. She has a presence that Mr. Abbot lacks. There is enough talk about her. It does not matter whether she just stabbed Kevin Rudd in the back or she is out on the streets shaking hands and kissing babies; She is the topic of conversation. Her trips to Adelaide, campaigning in Brisbane, talks in Melbourne were all broadcast. I did not hear as much about her opponent. It may seem that she may not have enough support from Brisbaners loyal to their Mr. Rudd but it will not be a surprise if she does manage to clinch the throne. 

When she talks, people want to report it. She seems to possess leadership qualities that make her stand out. That does not necessarily mean that she will do good, just that she can put up a good fight. She knows her strengths, the skills women are typically known for, and she uses it to her best advantage. No, I don't mean looks (have you seen her?) but the talents that make women good leaders. The ability to reach out and be noticed. 

I overheard someone once say, "Does she think she can become the PM by kissing babies and shaking hands?". Why not? Maybe the act itself will not give her the seat. It brings her in touch with the masses. 

She is like the celebrities we read about everyday. They have fans. How many fans really know them? Yet they have fiercely loyal followers. It is all about marketing. The more people see of you, the more people see you, to them you are more than just a name or a little moving object on the TV screen. If the campaigning were all to be believed, both parties are equal in negatives. In that case, who do I vote for? Maybe someone I can identify with or someone I know more about. Someone I have been following on the news everyday because atleast I know what she's upto. Maybe I don't know what is going on behind the scenes but her constant appearances make me believe I am not all in the dark. Where is Tony Abbot? What is he up to? For all that is said, he may be the better man. How do I know that, though? 

That does not mean that I expect the ALP to win the elections. Tony might become the PM, after all. Julia has a presence. She will not relegate to the background so easily. It cannot be missed that all the negative publicity and furore over her 'stabbing' her mate Rudd barely took off. On the one side, people were punching fists in the air and on the other, she was capturing hearts and gaining popularity with equal gusto. She has mustered as much acclaim as disrepute. She still stands tough, in competition to Tony Abbot. Talk about girl power.

As far as I am concerned, it does not matter who wins. I support no one and I did not have to vote. Except for the curiosity that arises out of being an audience to all the action and wanting to see who will win, there is nothing in it for me. Whoever wins, I am pretty sure that enough interest has been aroused in me to see how things go from here. Not so much the governance as the manifestation of the person who wins. Not so much what the government does but how the 2 individuals hold up.

I bet, when the results are finalized and announced, there will not be fire-crackers, parades or any such spectacles in public domain. The campaign slots will be taken up by ads for other products. I wonder what the celebrations will look like. The countdown is on.

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