Monday, July 19, 2010
Election 2010 – does sex matter?
For some the decision as to who they will vote for have already been made, others will still be deciding in the final days of the campaign and for some undecided voters the moments during the walk to the ballot box will be spent picking a candidate.
I’m a political junkie – I love it. My uni degree majored in politics, I’ve worked in politics and have always had an interest. Most of my friends think I’m a little odd but my hubby loves the passion that I have for politics and for the future of our communities and our nation.
So as a political junkie I will be spending the next 32 days devouring and digesting all things political; newspapers, online, television, party websites and brochures, twitter, whatever I can get my hands on.
One of the questions that I have been pondering since Julia Gillard became PM is whether her sex is an issue in how I and others might vote. As I’ve written before it was certainly an historic and amazing occasion when Julia became this country’s first female PM. I’m sure it empowered many women and I’m sure most women gave a cheer for girl power!
But will it make a difference to the way people vote? Will women vote for the ALP because they can vote for a female PM? Will we base our decision solely on policies and past performance or will the sex of each of the leaders play a role in our vote? I’m sure the political parties have done plenty of internal polling on this issue and the importance of personality and sex to voters, particularly swinging voters.
It’s important to remember at this point that under our system of government, we don’t actually vote for the PM, unless you happen to be in Julia Gillard or Tony Abbot’s electorate. We vote for a local representative who is then responsible for voting for the leader of their party, and for the party with enough seats to form government, the Prime Minister.
For me, I will be casting my vote according to policy and the party I think will offer the best for this country now and into the future. While I’m thrilled this country finally has a female PM, we need to pick the best person for the job, regardless of their sex. The work of my Federal representative will also be an important consideration, particularly since we don’t hear from her very much at all. In my view, despite being in government she hasn’t delivered for my community. And despite calls from the PM to move forward, past performance will be an important consideration.
On the other side of the coin, will some voters not vote for the ALP because the party is led by a woman? I read a comment in one of the Sunday papers yesterday where a 21 year old man stated a woman should not be running this country. Really!! I shouldn’t be surprised but I am disappointed these views still exist in 2010, especially a 21 year old.
The countdown to August 21 has started. My only hope is that all Australians take the time to treat their right to vote with the respect and importance it deserves, consider their vote carefully and use it wisely. Otherwise it could be a long three years.