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Political Regime of Australia and the United States Examination


Different countries adopt different systems of government that can be traced in history. Some other state systems are of a recent development called the hybrid systems. The United States of America operates a presidential system of government. Its roots can be traced from former systems of governance that have been improved to be what it is now (Brian and Geralyne 21). Australia, on the other hand, operates a constitutional monarchy system of governance (known largely as Westminster model) (Fry 43). The system has its root in history of the country where relevant modifications have occurred to enhance its efficiency (Fry 43). This paper examines the emergence of the political system that operates in the countries emphasized. It also examines the operations of the systems, and, finally, it takes a general comparison of the systems. Thus, both the United States and Australia began as British colonies, but employ two distinctly different political systems today.

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A Brief General Analysis of the Two Countries

The united States of America

The USA exercises power at the national and state level. The local government exercises jurisdiction in its area. However it shares power with the central government in some aspects. Some powers are not shared, for example, only the national government holds power to collect taxes. The system has a four year term elected president. Currently, the president is Barrack Obama. It also has a 100 member congress, whose each member is elected on a six year term. However, it is made in such a way that every two years one third of the congress term expires and an election is conducted. There is also a 435 member senate, elected for a 2 year term. In all aforementioned peculiar elections the minimum age to be elected is 18 years, except for the president. The president in the United States has power vested in him by points in the second article of the constitution and the congress Act (Fife and Miller 1). The system is dated in 1970. The central government can sue as the United States of America and can be sued as so (Fife and Miller 34).


In Australia, there is a hereditary monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II who took office on the 6th of February, 1952 (Dewar 1). The monarch is represented in the central government by a General-Governor. In each state, she is represented by a governor who is duly appointed by the Queen. They are mandated to advice the governor and the Queen in general. The system is recognized by the Australian constitution and letter patent. The monarch has executive power. After the appointment, the General-Governor is mandated to appoint the Prime Minister who is also required to advice the Governor-General on how to execute his powers locally and internationally (York 7).

How Australia Developed a Monarchy System of Government

As long as the mankind can remember, there existed a central concentration of power in kings and queens all over the world. In most of them the kingship runs down the family (Anderson and Van Nostrand 7). The monarchy system goes back to the former Scotland and England kingship systems. After the Second World War, former British colonies came together to end the British Empire and came up with independent Britain. It was first led by George VI and his successor Elizabeth II adapted as the head of the common wealth (York 34). The system exists even today. The queen, who is a member of the royal family, has the right to sign documents on many matters that happen in the country (Dewar 12). This does not mean that she is the adviser in state matters, but according to the Constitution, the reference must be made. For example, a ruling made by the court is said to be the queens ruling although she may even have no idea of the case (Barrington 98).

Parliament System Origin in America

Parliamentary system can as well be traced from the monarchy system. However, what happened was that King George was not able to speak English, once for the first time he gave chance to a minister to chair the cabinet at the time. However, the power was still vested in the king. In the course of time the system continued and more and more individuals took charge of the government. In 1982, the great reforms Act led to parliamentary dominance (Evans 53). On the other hand, some countries adapted what was referred to as Westminster model (Tiffen and Gittins 27). This meant that there was a head of the state that had power under the central government, but was answerable to the parliament.

The system was more dominant in countries that had their constitution enacted by the British parliament (Smith 51). This way was chosen by Australia as the country which from the period of colonization up to the declaration of independence had peaceful relationships with Great Britain. Thereupon, there is no telling about the United States. This country had a strong contradiction with England in terms of first 13 states. Thus, it can be considered as one of the reasons for different political systems in the US and Australia.

Power of Head of State

The monarch in Great Britain is a ceremonial head of states with power vested in her. Nonetheless, in practice, the sovereign does not exercise the powers directly. She also has the privilege of appearing on postage stamps, coins as well as basic notes (Dewar 1009). The monarch is a symbol of culture and the system is made in a way that even if he/she is not active in running of the governments he is recognized (Linda 97). Many states being under the monarch are required to have their independence in their mode of financing their budget. Being a part of the state, the monarch has some of his expenses covered by the government (Dewars 1009). In the United States, the president under the constitution has powers to issue executive’s orders to the parliaments that are not expected to be approved by the Congress (Zinn 498).

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He has an active participation in the parliament, and some powers cannot be delegated. The president is supposed to participate in making the national budget. This means that after he has participated in the budget making, he can have an influence on the allocation of funds. The president is under salary and the government is supposed to take care of not only the president personal expenses but for his entire family. For example, the security of the president and his wife is taken care of by the government (Fife and Miller 8). The first lady is also a powerful member of the state. The Constitution accords her some duties and responsibilities as long as she is the first lady. She is also on salary. The failure or success of the government projects is seen as the failure or the success of the president as the case may be. In cases of failure the president makes press conferences himself to explain. A recent example is when the campaigning promises that president Barrack Obama were not forthcoming; it was himself who had to give a reason.

In Australia, the queen is seen as “untouchable” whereby the failure in the performance of the government does not affect her. She still holds her royal and prestigious status over the countries of the Commonwealth. It is the Prime Minister’s mandate to ensure that positive results are attained in the government. He is answerable to the people. The head of the state in Australia – Governor-General – is still associated with a Queen’s supervisor. Historically, “the British monarch was represented nationally by Governor-General” (Tiffen and Gittins 21). Thus, Australia can be considered as the country which inherited British traditions largely. However, the main similarity that was inherited by the US and Australia from Great Britain is essentially two-party system (Tiffen and Gittins 32).

Powers of Appointment

Before the president gets into the office, the Constitution empowers him to have appointed more than 6,000 federal positions. In the appointment, he may seek an advice and consent of States senators. To seal a loophole that the U.S president can use when appointing the Judges with an aim to shape the Court system, the appointment of federal judges must be approved by the Senate (Zinn 544). In civil service, the president has powers to appoint the chief director and other top positions. At the same time he appoints his aides and staffs (Fife and Miller 35). In Australia, by the use of the royal prerogative there is no parliament approval needed in appointments that are done by the monarch representative (Tiffen and Gittins 47). The law authorizes the Governor-General to appoint and receive foreign diplomats and foreign missionary. In the assurance of passport the general governor can give the passport without the approval of the parliament (Fife and Miller 123).


The president represents the executive power. This gives him the power to appoint rules and regulations to be followed in the country. This is a power accorded under the head of the state status. He also has the power to appoint the minister to head the federal government state corporations. He can declare the national Emergency (Rodger 45). The chief commander of the Armed Forces and the Navy in the United States of America is the president. The Australian Constitution in section 38, gives power of commanding the Army, the Navy and declaring a state of emergency to the governor general in his or her capacity as the monarch representative (Tiffen and Gittins 21).

However, members of the local family preside over the military functions if available, and have the prestige of inspecting the navy or the army parade. At the same time the navy must have the prefix H.M.A.S. (Her Majesty Australian Ship) (Australian Bureau of Statistics 99). The Prime Minister is mandated to head the cabinet and advises the Governor-General. The Governor-General leaves the monarchy with only symbolic and cultural functions, and appears like a symbol of legal authority. The cabinet is mandated with duties to control the armed forces as well as declaring war or keeping peace in the country (Streitmatter 234).

Foreign Affairs

The president has the power to appoint ambassadors and high commissioners of foreign countries of which must be approved by the senate. He also has the powers to attend conferences and foreign meetings. For instance, it concerns the conference geared to discuss foreign matters affecting the USA (Quint and CantorMen 33). His appearance and opinion is taken as the opinion of the USA.He has powers to receive and welcome foreign ambassadors and foreign high-rank delegations. He has powers to recognize the state without the approval of the senate. This is one of the powers that had been abused by the President George Bush when he recognized Kosovo as a state, a decision that was controversial. On the other hand, the monarch powers are seen to be vested in the Governor-General. He is the one who participates in the international and bilateral conferences. He has the power to rectify any convention as long as it does not contravene the domestic law without the need of parliament’s approval. The queen is not restricted from attending any meeting and may attend the international or bilateral meetings. When the queen visits another country she is given a prestigious welcome and she is treated in all aspects as the head of state.

The Monarch as a Symbolic Figure

The current monarch, Queen Elizabeth, resides in Australia. In different cases she acts indirectly through delegations and, thus, by extensions, she can be seen as a symbol of power (Dewar 902). She is symbolized through images on bank notes, portraits in public buildings among others (Seeley 33). This is a symbol of respect and acknowledgment. In Western Australia and some parts of Wales, the crown is used in the court of arms (Twomey 98). In courts, anybody is required to show acknowledgment and respect to them. The badges of the military and the police have the crown in their background. Another major symbol of recognition is that the queen’s birthday which is taken and celebrated as a national holiday ’’God bless the queen” is the royal anthem (Streitmatter 22).

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The States of the United States of America

The states of the USA can be traced to have originated from the first continental congress meeting which saw the attendance of 12 out of 13 of British colonies (Zinn 53). This was what led to division of the America into different states and was referred to as the United States of America. The states needed equal representation in the central government. This called for some level of governance being brought down to the state level for ease of administration. At the same time decisions were seen to be more representative when undertaken by a smaller element of the major government. The states have powers of conducting its military activities within its jurisdiction, but are subjected to the command of the chief of the armed forces and navy forces.

This shows that the powers given are limited and controlled by the central government. In the state, the local government has power to regulate foreign affairs (Zinn 56). This should not be misunderstood to mean that each state sends an ambassador and high commission representatives separately. As stated above, this power is vested in the president, and UN’s primary board represents the entire country (Zinn 73). As might be seen, different and independent taxes and trade negotiations is the direct affair of the government. Currently there are fifty states in America, each one is led by a senator (Smith 67). The senator works as the sole representative of a state in the central federal government. He/she is also a figure of the central government in a definite state. The decision of the state government is binding in the state concerned. However, the central government can reverse the decision without reference to the state (Fife and Miller 77).

Election and Election Systems of America

When a candidate in the US declares his/her intention to be elected, he/she will first undergo a vetting process by the party. Primary elections are supported by the government. The elections give the public a chance to advice the political parties indirectly of their choice of candidate. Afterwards, the candidate is paneled by the political party, to come up with the campaign strategy. All this time campaigning on party lines is predominant (Milton 89). Elections are conducted mostly on Tuesday after the first Monday in November this Tuesday is known as ‘super Tuesday’. There are 538 electors (Zinn 676).

The president is required to emerge the winner in 270 of the 538 electors on the minimum end (Zinn 676). To become a president, one must be at least 35 years and must have lived in America for at least 14 years (Zinn 425). The president can run for a reappointment only once. This gives a president a maximum term of eight year. The president is not elected directly but the voter, who must be registered as a voter and a citizen, votes for a candidate from a particular party. The successive president is not inaugurated immediately but waits until January twentieth of the following year. Since that day of official declaration, he is already in office. Voters in some states, for example, Iowa, have 3 levels of the electors that a voter votes for. They are local, district, and senate (Quint and CantorMen 33). Directions and monitoring of election are administrated at the local and at the state levels.

The central government has no set standards to govern the election, but the electro body is independent (Fife and Miller 115). The systems that are used in voting are different depending on technology and level of literacy within the population. There is electronic voting system, secret paper ballots; the use of driver machine. There is also a punch card mark sense form. In the last general election there was the use of computer voting to enhance integrity and fairness (Quint and CantorMen 66).

In Australia on the other hand, there is preferential voting system where the voter records in an order of preference to the candidates that he would like to elect. The voting is compulsory by the constitution (Royston 34). What compulsory voting means, is that voting is mandatory for the citizens (who are eighteen years plus) (Quint and CantorMen 23). If someone did not vote, and had no valid reason of not doing so, then he can be charged a small fine, and for no paying, it leads to imprisonment (Australian Bureau of Statistics 56). In Australia, since the monarch is hereditary, it is not subject to be elected. The voting system is through paper work, only some testing electronic voting is conducted. The leader with majority votes is mostly appointed as the prime minister (Twomey 67).

The Parliament

The United States parliament is referred to as the House of Representatives. It consists of elected members from all states of America, and is mandated to making law of the country as well as vetting of appointment done by the president (Zinn 45). However, this vetting acts in terms of the norms of the Constitution. In Australia the parliament follows a combined system. Some elements of the state congress government are employed. It means that a senator represents his/her state in the parliament (Australian Bureau of Statistics 68). There are also some elements of Westminster system whereby the Governor-General attends the parliamentary meetings having some distinct powers without the authority of the parliament but depending on the Prime Minister for advice (Seeley 28). The parliament is headed by the Prime Minister who usually commands the majority number of member in the parliament (Fife and Miller 77).


To sum up, both the United States and Australia began as British colonies, but employ two distinctly different political systems today. Democratic ways of governance were applied in each country. However, in case with the US it fell into a strong presidential republic. Australia, though, has inherited from Great Britain the Westminster model of governance similar to constitutional monarchy. In Australia the monarchy system has taken precedence, but elements of a parliament system are evident in the way decisions are made. Conversely, the United States followed a different way of political reforms to show, historically, its independence from colonist pretences of England.

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