- Jonathan Wijayaratne
This week has brought us a handful of new governments around the world, each receiving very different reactions.
The Australian left is back
On Saturday, the Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese (aka Albo) won the Australian federal general election. It defeated the right-wing Liberal/National Party coalition, which had been in government for a decade, with the controversial Scott Morrisson as Prime Minister for the last three years. While Morrisson has been praised for his leadership through the first Covid waves, he has also faced criticism for the slow vaccine rollout, his failure to address climate change following deadly bushfires and floods, a sexual harassment scandal in Parliament, and the diplomatic rift with France caused by Australia’s calling off a $90 billion submarine deal, ahead of forming the AUKUS alliance. Albo, a veteran politician, is described as one of the most progressive politicians in Australia, an ally of the queer community, a defender of the free healthcare system and a republican. He also vowed to live up to the country’s climate objectives. So, Aussies can expect quite some change, after years of conservative rule.
Madame la Première Ministre
Morrisson’s defeat was welcomed by the French government with a lot of satisfaction. Minister Jean-Yves le Drian joked about Morrisson’s brutality, cynicism and incompetence, on his way out of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign affairs. Indeed, France also got a new government this week, with Élisabeth Borne as Prime Minister. It is the second time France has a female head of government, the last one being Édith Cresson in 1991. After barely winning the presidential race last month, I think Emmanuel Macron is trying to show a consensual mindset, by appointing ministers who are openly gay, or openly homophobic, as well as nine female ministers and male ministers who have been accused of sexual misconduct. But France being France, it is the new Minister of Education – Pap Ndiaye, a black historian who studies immigration and minority issues – who got the biggest backlash. Meanwhile, leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon is dreaming of reshuffling the government again next month, when his coalition would win the general election. Listen to our latest podcast on the French elections to better understand their stakes!
Getting rid of corruption with even more corruption
Over the last two weeks, a temporary government has been in the forming in Sri Lanka. Opposition MP Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed Prime Minister for the sixth time by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, after the President’s brother Mahinda (who was also President from 2005 to 2015) stepped down from Premiership in response to the economic, humanitarian and political crisis the country is going through. The Sinhalese- Buddhist nationalist Rajapaksas came to power in 2019 using a supremacist rhetoric, but with no solutions for Lanka’s problems. Three years of catastrophic economic mismanagement later, Lankans are queuing for hours to get petrol or gas cylinders, electricity is shut between 2 and 15 hours per days, and soon the same will happen with running water. Since March, people have taken to the streets and asked Gotabaya to step down and reform the constitution to keep power-hungry politicians out of the institutions. Ranil has often been two-faced and has protected the Rajapaksa from being tried for human rights abuses whenever he was in power – his appointment proves that the government still fails to hear the people’s demands, as tear gas keeps being fired at them.