Australia Goes to the Polls

Published September 6, 2013
By J. J. Messner
Fund for Peace - Global Square Blog
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Tomorrow Australians will be (compulsorily) going to the polls to choose their next federal government. To say that Australian politics has been eventful over the past few years is quite the understatement. But quite apart from the theatrics of Australia's Parliament, it is worth taking a look at Australia's performance, as a country, according to The Fund for Peace's Failed States Index scores since 2006.

Before we do, it is worth providing a quick re-cap of the past few years in Canberra. Kevin Rudd led the Labor Party out of the political wilderness at the end of 2007, ending 11 years of Liberal-National coalition rule, under Prime Minister John Howard. Rudd was, however, unseated only 2 1/2 years later by his own party, who forced him out of the Prime Ministership in favor of Julia Gillard, who became Australia's first female Prime Minister. Gillard led Labor to the slimmest of election victories that same year, when neither major party gained a majority, and Gillard's government was returned only with the support of the Green party and independent MPs. Fast-forward to only a few months ago, and Kevin Rudd returned to the position of Prime Minister after the Labor Party again turned on its leader. Tomorrow, Rudd faces off against Tony Abbott, the leader of the Liberal Party (which is actually the conservative party in Australian politics).

Got all that? Great. Because below is a chart that outlines the performance of Australia based off FFP's numbers. Note that the chart has been divided into the rough terms of Howard, Rudd, and Gillard. As the FSI reflects a country's performance from the previous year, the shading for each leader's term is 12 months off the actual term, since the indicator scores measuring, say, 2007, are not reported until 2008.

Click here for an explanation of the 12 indicators
Of all the 178 countries that FFP assesses annually, Australia was the 5th-most improved in 2013. Australia has followed a slightly worsening trend from 2006 through 2011, however the country's performance has begun to turnaround in the past couple years.

Of particular note is the Uneven Economic Development indicator, which has improved by a over a whole point during this time frame. Such an improvement is actually quite significant, and suggests that despite the economic boom in Australia, wealth inequality has actually improved. Similarly, the indicators demonstrate that pressure had been increasing on Australia's economic performance, however since 2009, Australia's economic performance has improved.

Overall, whoever wins tomorrow -- be it Kevin Rudd's Labor Party for another term, or (the apparent favorite) Tony Abbott's Liberal-National Coalition -- will be maintaining (or inheriting) a country that is performing very well, and according to FFP's assessment, is on the up-and-up.

For a complete analysis of Australia's performance, view our Country Data & Trends profile for Australia.