Political Mandates

Balance of Power Mandate

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Definition:
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The democratic mandate for the legitimate exercise of legislative power which is claimed by crossbench minor parties and Independents who hold a balance of power, typically in the Senate. Such Members of Parliament (MPs) can use this ability to scrutinise, negotiate, change, pass or even block bills. This is strengthened by the liberally democratic nature of Australia's political system, whereby minority rights are upheld, especially in the Senate, which aims to achieve mirror representation through the proportional voting system. 

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Arguements For the Mandate
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  1. Section 7 guarantees that the Senate shall be chosen directly "by the people", meaning that minor party senators have had their mandate vested in them directly by the voters;

  2. The mandate also fulfils its role in achieving mirror representation through its proportional voting system, thus containing a diversity of input that includes minority views.

  3. Many Australians are dual voters (approximately 15%), which means that they vote for one party in the HoR & a different in the Senate so the latter party can hold the HoR to account;

  4. Such a mandate allows the Senate to fulfil its role as a House of review, as is stipulated by Section 53 (which establishes the two Houses of Parliament as co-equal in power except in relation to money bills); and

  5. Also fulfil its role in achieving mirror representation through its proportional voting system, thus containing a diversity of input that includes minority views.

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Arguements Against the Mandate
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  1. It is highly undemocratic for minor party/Independent senators who represent only small sections of society to wield power over legislation to the extent that they can effectively veto the majority government, grossly taking away the beliefs of the majority;

  2. Section Seven establishes the Senate as a "State's House", not a "people's House" to prevent the government from exercising its specific mandates; and

  3. This has the additional effect of creating malapportionment, further reducing its democratic value.

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Majoritarian Mandate
Opposition Mandate
Balance of Power Mandate
Relevant Examples & Case Studies
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