For two days Australia it is a country in full mourning. Social media flooded with “RIP (rest in peace) Queen Elizabeth” posts, television channels broadcasting documentaries and testimonies about the Queen’s life. Do you think that at my son’s school they even organized a memorialthe day after Her Majesty’s disappearance.
I declare myself immediately: for education and culture, the monarchy it is the furthest thing out of my way of thinking. Formalisms, pomposity, traditions, hierarchy: all the opposite of what I believe in. And I was always intrigued by the fact that Australia, a country with a very high rate of informality in relations and composed of a society basically horizontalin which the concept of equality of rights and duties is deeply rooted, has this immoderate interest in the Royal Crown.
Australia is part of the Commonwealth, an association of 54 countries originating from the old British Empire. Of these 54 countriesthe Queen was Head of State of 14 (in addition to the United Kingdom): Australia is part of this list, along with Canada, Jamaica and New Zealand, to name the best known.
I have always found the contrast between a young and extremely progressive state like Australia and the institutional “heaviness” of the British monarchy. Although some friends have pointed out to me that there are other European states that are considered extremely progressive and that – despite this – still have constitutional monarchies in place, such as Denmark, Norway, Holland and Sweden. Obviously the Queen hadn’t an active role in running the nation, and was represented in Australia by the Governor General, appointed by the Crown in consultation with the Australian Prime Minister. The Governor General actually enjoys extensive and not insignificant powers representing the Crown, including providing the assent to the laws voted by Parliament and start the procedure for calling political elections. These are powers established by the Constitution but which the Governor General exercises – generally – on the initiative of the Council of Ministers.
Because Australia has never really focused on starting a transition to become a Republic, if as a society it does not fully recognize itself in the monarchical institution? Actually in November 1999 was held a referendum – promoted by Malcolm Turnbull who later became Prime Minister from 2015 to 2018 – to amend the Constitution and become a presidential republic. The No prevailed with 55% and therefore nothing came of it. According to the main analyzes, and also on the basis of conversations I had in my circle of Australian friends, the main one reason it was a kind of inertia whereby the monarchy had never done much damage or meddled in the government of the nation and therefore there was no strong sentiment or particular urgency to change the Constitution, an issue on which Australians are generally quite nervous and they tend to hire a conservative approach..
Could Elizabeth’s death change the landscape? I believe (and hope) so. As it coincides with the recent victory of the Labor Party, which entered the government just over 100 days ago. A party traditionally more attached to republican values and with a progressive agenda that could certainly contain the reopening of the debate on the coherence of the monarchical model with Australian society. The Prime Minister himself Anthony Albanese he has repeatedly reiterated his thoughts on the need for Australia to have an Australian head of state, and not an English one.CopyAMP code
Furthermore, it seems to me that the collective sentiment has changed in recent years, as a result of a generation of young people who – understandably – do not feel any kind of affiliation with the Crown, combined with increasingly deafening voices rising from the Aboriginal community, which sees the Crown as the ultimate representation of a power that has invaded the country and destroyed local culture and traditions. Not later than a month ago, at the inauguration ceremony of the new Parliament, the indigenous deputy Lidia Thorpe defined the Queen as “Her Majesty the colonizer” during the recitation of the oath, while holding his fist raised. Causing a mixture of scandal and admiration.
How fast can this change happen? I doubt it will occur during the legislature that has just begun (in Australia the mandate lasts three years), as the Albanian Prime Minister is promoting an agenda of “safe change”And I don’t think he wants to embark on an adventure that can turn out to be long and full of obstacles. If in these three years the Labor Party will be able to gain the trust of the people, and therefore a second term, I am quite certain that in 2025 the time will be ripe for a soft transition towards a form of government which – in my opinion – would represent in a much more faithful way the essence of Australian society.