Well, we did our bit. We voted. It's now up to those we elected to do theirs: form a Government and run the country for the next three years.

It's an amazing process.

We voted without fear of violence or intimidation, our votes were counted, our leaders accepting of the result. We take our democracy for granted because we know nothing else.

Yet historically democracy is a rare thing.


And around the world too many people suffer tyranny without an opportunity to cast a vote.

Our elections are peaceful, even mundane affairs. We vote, we get a result, we get on with it.

We do so with surprisingly little rancour. That's despite democracy never giving us what we actually want.

We don't get the Government we each want. We don't get the policies we each think are best.

What we get is the collective ability to dump a Government.

That more modest achievement is enough - it's what makes democracy work.

What we do get is a process that allows us to accept the result and Governments that aren't too bad compared to those not subject to democratic check.

It prevents the abuse of power that is universally the experience when rulers are not so readily toppled.


Yesterday's result isn't as good - or as bad - as we imagine. It may not be the result you voted for but the result won't be too bad.

And if you got the result you wanted, you will undoubtedly be disappointed that the Government is not as good as you were hoping.

That's the nature of democracy. Everything must be a compromise.

The most surprising thing I learned in Government was how little power a prime minister or minister actually has.

They must contend with Cabinet, caucus, Parliament, government departments, interest groups and public opinion informed by the media.

Good prime ministers prove to be everyone's servant and no one's boss.

Good politicians do more listening than talking. And Governments that stop listening are dumped.

We tend to think of good politicians as being good talkers, but that's not my experience.

The most important feature of democracy is not the Government but the Opposition, which keeps the Government in check.

It's not as glamorous or as exciting as the Government but it's critical. The Opposition serves to hammer a Government that allows itself to get too far offside with people. A Government without Opposition is a dictatorship.

It's natural to summarise an election by winners and losers. But in truth we are all winners enjoying the benefits of a democratic system.