Total recall: the revenge of the voters

26 March 2009

Associate Professor Anne Twomey believes the adoption of recall elections is a debatable alternative, following calls for it to be considered in New South Wales by the State Opposition.

The Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell says a Coalition government would have a panel of experts consider whether recall elections should be adopted.

"Recall elections are used in 18 US states, in the Canadian province of British Columbia and in a number of countries, such as Venezuela, as a means of removing elected officials between general elections, if that is the will of the voters," writes Associate Professor Twomey in an opinion piece in today's Sydney Morning Herald.

"They (recall elections) are directed at individuals, rather than governments.

"So a mayor, member of parliament, elected judge or American governor can be recalled if the voters in that person's electorate are dissatisfied with him or her.

"This will not normally result in a change in government, unless the person recalled is a head of government, resulting in a new administration."

Associate Professor Twomey warns that whether or not it would be a good idea is open to debate.

"On the one hand, it is democratic and allows the people to withdraw their mandate," she writes.

"On the other, it might inhibit governments from taking unpopular but necessary decisions for the long-term benefit of the state."

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Contact: Greg Sherington

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