Political Parties in Australia
Australia has a two-party political system like the UK and the USA.
On the left side of the political spectrum is the Australian Labor Party, the equivalent of the Labour Party in the UK and the Democratic Party in the US. This party promotes social change and equality of citizens. Australia currently has a Labor government, led by the first female Prime Minister in the country’s history, Julia Gillard.
On the right-leaning side, in favour of a more capitalist society, is the Liberal Party of Australia, the equivalent of Britain’s Conservative Party and America’s Republican Party. As the party on the opposite side of parliament to the government, the Liberal Party is known as the Opposition. The current Opposition Leader is Tony Abbott.
The third, and much smaller force, in Australian politics is the Greens. The Australian Greens, as the party is officially known, is positioned to the left of Labor with a strong focus on environmental issues. Support for the Greens is increasing, with the party winning its first seat in the House of Representatives (Lower House) in the 2011 federal election.
The Greens real power is holding the ‘balance of power’ in the Senate (Upper House). The role of the Senate is to consider legislation that has been proposed by the government in the lower house. So, currently in Australia, if the government wants its legislation passed through the Senate, it must stay friendly with the Greens.
There are many other smaller parties in Australia that have representatives in the Senate. However, these parties usually stand for specific issues such as fewer restrictions on fishing, and decriminalisation of marijuana. These parties usually get things done by supporting larger parties.