It's a moment of global backlash: Right-wing populists are gaining strength around the world, global stock markets are jittery, and British voters recently rejected the European Union.
Amid all this, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that there was just an election in Australia. Well, here's a picture of people voting on Saturday as proof.
Results are still being counted, but the governing conservative party (confusingly called the Liberals) looks like it's been re-elected — but only just. There was a swing against it in favor of the left-wing Labor party and a number of independents.
The one result that has everyone talking, however, is that a woman named Pauline Hanson has just won a Senate spot.
In addition to being Australia's most famous racist, Hanson is a former fish and chip shop owner who was once sent to prison for electoral fraud only to be exonerated and then be crowned the runner-up on Dancing With The Stars.
So, yes, this is obviously going to require some explaining.
Hanson is from the state of Queensland, which is basically what you would get if Florida and Texas had an Australian baby.
It's pretty conservative, rural, and a lot of weird shit happens there.
Perhaps the key thing to know about Queensland is that it's where the iconic '90s movie Muriel's Wedding was set. The film's whole aesthetic was very Queensland.
Speaking of the '90s, let's flash back to 1996 — a whole year before another group of Hansons inflicted this travesty on the world:
Pauline Hanson (no relation), the former owner of a plumbing business and a shop that sold fish and chips (Aussie for fries), had just finished a stint as a city councillor.
She was endorsed by the conservative Liberal party to run for a Queensland seat at the federal election, but the party quickly dissociated themselves from her when she made racist comments about Indigenous Australians.
"How can we expect this race to help themselves," she wrote, "when governments shower them with money, facilities, and opportunities that only these people can obtain no matter how minute the indigenous blood is that flows through their veins, and this is what is causing racism."
But it didn't matter. She still won and sat in parliament as an independent. Democracy!
Here's how the national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, explains her allure to voters:
"Her appeal has been largely attributed to her willingness to speak out on behalf of a so-called 'silent majority' whose views on immigration, Aboriginal welfare and multiculturalism had been on the nose in the preceding era of 'political correctness.'"
Her first speech as a federal lawmaker in 1996 was...a lot. Here's just a few of the best lines:
— "We now have a situation where a type of reverse racism is applied to mainstream Australians by those who promote political correctness and those who control the various taxpayer funded ‘industries’ that flourish in our society servicing Aboriginals, multiculturalists, and a host of other minority groups."
— "I am fed up with being told, ‘This is our land.’ Well, where the hell do I go? I was born here, and so were my parents and children."
— "I draw the line when told I must pay and continue paying for something that happened over 200 years ago [referring to the colonization of Australia by the British]."
— "I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians."
— "Of course, I will be called racist but, if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country."
Hanson was soon proved right about one thing: She was indeed called racist.
When the Aussie version of 60 Minutes did a story on her, the journalist asked Hanson if she was xenophobic, prompting her to utter the phrase "Please explain." It immediately became ICONIC.
She was also asked what she thought of Sydney's Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, to which she tersely replied, "I don't like it." (ALSO NOW ICONIC).
Need proof? A drag queen named Pauline Pantsdown released a song in 1998 called "I Don't Like It" that remixed a bunch of Hanson's quotes. It peaked at NUMBER 10 on the Australian charts.
In 1997, Pauline Hanson founded the One Nation party on a platform of stopping foreign aid, ending multiculturalism, and halting immigration to Australia, especially from Asia.
I know the whole "swamped by Asians" thing sounds a little weird, but you need to remember that Australia is a large island of around 23 million (mostly white) people surrounded by hundreds of millions of people in Asia that are, well, not white.
There's a long, shameful history of people being afraid of new arrivals, from the Chinese in the 19th Century Gold Rush, to the Greeks and Italians who arrived after World War II, to refugees from Vietnam and Lebanon.
In the 1990s, Hanson made sure it was the Asians' turn.
One Nation soon found supporters, especially in Queensland. In the 1998 state election, One Nation won some 22.7% of the vote, taking 11 of the 89 seats in the Queensland legislature.
But Asian-Australians soon had their revenge. When the electoral boundary of Hanson's seat was redrawn by independent officials, she found herself in a new district that had a large share of Asian voters.
Unsurprisingly, Hanson lost her seat in the 1998 federal election, although a One Nation member was elected to the Senate representing the state of — you guessed it — Queensland.
For a while, Hanson retreated in the headlines as a bizarre relic of the '90s, just like the teenyboppers who shared her name, but in 2003, she was rather sensationally jailed by a jury for electoral fraud.
She served almost three months before she was released after her conviction was quashed by a higher court, branding herself a political prisoner.
As she repeatedly tried — and failed — to run for office, Hanson did what all those imprisoned for their political beliefs do: She competed on Dancing With The Stars.
She was the runner-up in the show's first ever Australian season, finishing second to a famous soap star.
It was another crushing political defeat.
Hanson faded again into the background, occasionally popping up on morning television shows to provide a contrarian viewpoint about something, or to just generally be provocative.
She swore she was done with politics ("I've become bitter about it," she said) and threatened to leave the country for the U.K., only to change her mind when she decided it was "overrun with immigrants and refugees."
However, she decided she'd give politics another go and rejoined One Nation in 2014 as leader.
Like Donald Trump, her message is a populist one, railing against a perceived political establishment.
"It's time to let the political parties know they cannot take us, the Australian people, for granted," she said.
Also like Trump, Hanson also had a new bogeyman in her sights: Muslims.
“I would say we’re in danger of being swamped by Muslims,” she said in May, returning to her favorite phrase. “If you’re going to bury your head in the sand about it, you’re a fool.”
She criticized the country's refugee intake as being too high, linking Europe's migration crisis to Australia's by warning "that surge is evident in some suburbs of Australia and will continue to spread if our politicians send out the message that we must be tolerant or their needs and not ours."
Simon Hunt, the man behind the Pauline Pantsdown character, told the ABC Hanson's rhetoric is reminiscent of Donald Trump.
"It's no longer Asians, it's Muslims now," Hunt said.
"She's having to say things that are more extreme like putting surveillance cameras into mosques, and having a royal commission into whether Islam is a religion."
"It's at that bizarre, Donald Trump edge of reality."
With Saturday's votes still being counted, One Nation had earned enough votes to secure Hanson a Senate seat representing Queensland once more.
Depending on the final results, the party may even pick up three other seats, putting it in a very influential position in the Senate, where the major parties may need to woo her votes.
"I'm the person that's going to come in, like the cleaner," she said Saturday night. "If they don't clean your house properly you get rid of them and you have a clean sweep of the broom."
At her victory party, Labor Senator Sam Dastyari cheekily invited her to join him for a Halal-certified snack pack, which prompted Hanson to absolutely lose it at the mere suggestion she would eat something labelled acceptable for Muslims.
So that's Pauline Hanson, Australia's current answer to Donald Trump.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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