Officially: Commonwealth of Australia.
Seat of government: Canberra.
Status: Democratic.
Structure: Parliament comprises a House of Representatives, elected by ranked vote in geographical constituencies, which chooses the prime minister, and a Senate, with twelve members in each province (state) and two in each territory, elected through ranked, transferrable vote.
Governing parties: Liberal Party, Liberal National Party, National Party, Country Liberal Party (since 2013).
Heads of government: Tony Abbott, Liberal, prime minister (since 2013); Walter Truss, National, deputy prime minister.
Chief opposition parties: Australian Labor Party, led by Bill Shorten; Australian Greens, led by Richard di Natale.
Assessment: Largest remaining problem is racial relations, both with aboriginals and with immigrants. Under the conservative Liberal-National government led by John Howard (1996-2007), the state began taking a strong integrationist and interventionist stance, leading an intervention force to Solomon Islands, proposing a regional police force, and placing the head of the Pacific Forum. The Labor Party was elected in 2007 in a landslide under Kevin Rudd (2007-10, 2013). His election, and the choice of republicans as governor general (Quentin Bryce) and leader of the opposition (Malcolm Turnbull), were boosts to the republican movement. Turnbull was replaced in 2009 (by Abbott) over climate-change legislation that he favored. Rudd was then replaced in 2010, by Julia Gillard (2010-3), shortly before an expected election. The 2010 election provided a close result; Labor was able to win the support of the sole Green MP and several independents to form a government; it also relied on the support of the large Green bloc in the Senate. Gillard was replaced herself, by Rudd, before the 2013 election, which the Liberal-National coalition won decisively.
FH: 1-1, free. Econ: 9.22 (6), full democracy.
Updated: 2015 May 6.