Comparative Democracies

Comparative Democracies

United States of America vs Australia

Politics and democracy are a collective venture – the result of what we do together as a society. However, what can be achieved is greatly influenced by the structures of the democratic systems that we live in. In this comparison of the government systems of the United States of America and Australia it is worth noting that whilst both the USA and Australia are a federation of states, the USA is a republic and Australia, both at the Commonwealth and State levels, is a constitutional monarchy. 

The Presidential system in the United States operates under a “true” separation of powers, where power is separated between executive, judiciary and the legislature and the executive and legislature are both separately elected. In nations such as Australia, which follow the model of the Westminster system, the people elect the legislature, and from that, the political party that wins the majority of seats becomes the executive.

In addition, when it comes to elections, the individual state legislatures in the United States have great power as to how to vote, who can vote, how votes are counted and how disputes over results are handled. This is not the case in Australia where the Australian Electoral Commission (and the state electoral commissions) maintain an impartial and independent electoral system.   

These are just some of the similarities and differences between these two democracies. Below is a comparison of features for these two systems of government. 



The Head of State in the USA is the President of the United States.

This position:

The Head of State in Australia is the Governor-General and in NSW, the Governor. Each state has their own Governor.

These positions:



Another difference between these two democratic nations occurs in the way the Executive branch of Government is formed.

In the USA the Executive (Cabinet):

In Australia (and each of the States), the Executive (Ministry):



There are many similarities in the Legislatures of each nation. 

In the USA, the Legislature (Congress):

In Australia, the Legislature:



The creators of the Australian Constitution also borrowed aspects of the United States Judiciary when creating the Commonwealth of Australia at Federation in 1901. The Judiciary of NSW remains, in structure, largely as it was inherited from the United Kingdom.

The main features are: 

In the United States the main features of the Judiciary are:



Both United States and Australian law combine Constitutional and Statute Law (Law passed by Legislatures) and Common Law (‘Judge-made Law’). Some of this body of law was ‘inherited’ from Britain.