Missing Plato: Voting for change for no reason in Australia, Norway

Plato. Luni marble, copy of the portrait made ...

It makes one wish longingly for Plato’s ideal society, ruled by Philosopher Kings. Obviously what Plato outlined was unquestionably autocratic and totalitarian, and not something we’d like to put in place today. It was even autocratic with the standards of the limited democracy they had in Athens. But sometimes in today’s society, it feels like democracy has become a reality TV show, where people vote for changes in governments just for the sake of changing them. The current leaders get voted out just because they are no longer seen as interesting.

Cases in point now are Australia and Norway. Australia just voted to replace Kevin Rudd with Tony Abbott. Rudd has a proven track record, and has made sure Australia weathered the financial crisis storm better than any other industrialized country. However, now voters see fit to replace him with another coalition, which is unproven and has been mum on what their policies will be. It feels like gambling with the country’s future.

In Norway, we are seeing the same scenario play out. Jens Stoltenberg had the highest approval ratings ever just a year ago, and Norway has also sailed through the financial crisis splendidly, but in a week, all polls point to him being voted out by voters eager for change for the sake of change itself.

Not all changes are bad, of course. Some of the changes in government we saw in the midst of the financial crisis made sense, since there were incompetent governments such as Berlusconi‘s, that were largely to blame for the crisis. Now that the world seems to be beginning to turn the page and come out of its crisis, it no longer makes sense to change governments just for the fun of it.

Another case in point is the US. It seemed to make sense for a long time to run the pattern of reverting to the party in mid-term elections that had lost the previous presidential election. This did for a long time seem to reinforce the necessary checks and balances. Now, however, it has just led to a complete paralysis and the frozen Washington that everyone laments.

Germans, as is often the case, seem to be the most pragmatic ones, and look to be keeping Merkel around. Good for them.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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