AUSTRALIA: Imbroglio in Canberra

After several days of Machiavellian intrigue and counter-intrigue, Australia's first Labor Party government in 23 years came to an abrupt end last week, less than halfway through its three-year term. Prune Minister Gough Whitlam had Parliament dissolved and called for new elections. Ironically, Whitlam brought on the crisis by a political maneuver intended to consolidate his strength, not to provoke a showdown with the opposition.

At first Whitlam's fateful move seemed like a master stroke. During his 16 months in office, his legislative program has been frustrated by an opposition coalition of the Liberal and Country parties, which, with the...

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