Democracy Sausage

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A sausage sandwich at a polling booth in front of Old Parliament House, Canberra.

The "democracy sausage" is a colloquial name given to the Australian tradition of holding a fundraising sausage sizzle at polling places on election day.

Democracy sausages being barbecued at the polling booth at Kenmore State School in the electoral district of Moggill at the 2017 Queensland state election

The democracy sausage has become so well recognised and expected in Australian culture, that in the 24 hours leading up to the 2 July 2016, federal election Twitter changed its emoji for #ausvotes from a ballot box to a sausage lying on a slice of white bread topped with sauce.[1] In December 2016, the Australian National Dictionary Centre selected "democracy sausage" as its Australian Word of the Year for 2016.[2]

Australians always vote on a Saturday, and voting is compulsory, so there is always a big voter turnout, for both state and federal elections.[1] Many of the polling places are located at schools, community halls and churches,[3] so the groups whose facilities are used for polling booths often take advantage of the large number of people coming to their location, and set up stalls to raise funds for their groups.[4] For many community groups this is the biggest fundraising event of the year.[1]

In some cases, vegan sausages are sold on the polling day in particular polling stations.[5] This was the case with The Greens in 2017 Queensland state election.

Sausages on bread are not the only items sold at the election day stalls. Voters can also purchase cakes, drinks and other food items such as vegetarian and gluten free options.[3][6][7][8] Various websites and social media accounts have been set up to help the public locate which polling booths have stalls and what will be available at them, so that they can choose a polling location according to their food choices.[4][9] At the 2 July 2016 federal election, one such site recorded 2301 polling booths as having sausages and/or cakes available,[10] and another recorded 2094,[11] each of which is over one-third of the total number.[3][4]

Some cake stalls sell themed sweets which are named as a play on politicians' names such as Alba-Cheesy Cakes (Anthony Albanese), Malcolm Turnovers, Malcolm Turnballs (Malcolm Turnbull), Plebislice (referring to a plebiscite), Jacqui Lambingtons (Jacqui Lambie), Tanya Plibiscuits (Tanya Plibersek), and Richard Di Nutella Fudge (Richard Di Natale).[12]

In 1989, Peter Dowding, then Premier of Western Australia, was forced to deny accusations the Labor Party was bribing voters with free sausages and drinks before the state election that year. Police investigated whether a 'free family sausage sizzle' held a week before the election breached the Electoral Act. The saga continued when Dowding accused state Liberal Party leader, Barry MacKinnon, of being photographed during the campaign wearing a barbecue hat and apron, therefore "being involved in the dissemination of sausages".[13][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Sausage democracy sweeps Australian polls". seven News. 2 July 2016. Archived from the original on 3 July 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  2. ^ Reinfrank, Alkira (14 December 2016). "Democracy sausage snags Word of the Year as smashed avo, shoey lose out". ABC News. Archived from the original on 13 December 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "Australia takes its democracy with a side of sausage". BBC News. 2 July 2016. Archived from the original on 3 July 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Castner, Grant. "Election Sausage Sizzles". Election Sausage Sizzles. Archived from the original on 14 May 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  5. ^ Mitchell-Whittington, Amy (1 July 2016). "Where you can get the best democracy sausage". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on 16 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  6. ^ "Democracy Sausage". Archived from the original on 3 July 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  7. ^ "Booth Reviews". Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  8. ^ "How to pull the most out of your Election Day Democracy Sausage". Pedestrian Daily. Archived from the original on 2 July 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  9. ^ "Democracy Sausage". Frankie Magazine. 1 July 2016. Archived from the original on 2 July 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  10. ^ "Sausagelytics". democracysausage.org. Archived from the original on 3 July 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  11. ^ "Election Sausage Sizzles – Snagvotes". electionsausagesizzle.com.au. Archived from the original on 4 July 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016. 
  12. ^ "The best election puns from cake-stalls around Australia". SBS. 2 July 2016. Archived from the original on 5 July 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  13. ^ "#democracysausage: How politicians were once accused of BRIBING voters by offering them free sandwiches – before the sizzle became an election day essential". Daily Mail Australia. 2 July 2016. Archived from the original on 3 July 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  14. ^ "Dowding denies 'sausage bribe'". The Canberra Times. 11 April 1989. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2016.