Oz Election

Well, the Australian election is getting pretty damn close now.  A few random thoughts:

  • Both at an aggregate and at a seat-by-seat level, the betting markets have blown out in favour of a Labor victory.
  • There have been plenty of predictions of exactly how many seats Labor will win, but as ever, Bryan Palmer does a superb job of aggregation and analysis.
  • We have, as Joshua Gans puts it, “US style election-lawyering” from the Coalition, who have released legal advise suggesting that 13 Labor candidates may be inelligible to stand.  I am entirely in agreement with The Possum on this one:  “Sour grapes do not play well with the electorate, threatening to bring in lawyers to try and overturn the election result looks bitter. Not accepting the umpires decision, and threatening to take your bat and ball and go home looks pathetic.”
  • Andrew Norton has some good work in looking at the reasons why the Coalition are on the nose.  His prognosis:  expect a long time in opposition.  I’m not sure I agree with him, but I can’t really explain why, so I’ll just shut up and direct you to him.
  • A friend here in London was voting for somewhere (sorry, I have no clue where) in NSW and thanks to the beauty of the Australian preferential voting system, had to rank One Nation, Family First and Fred Niles.  I really don’t know how I’d put them.

2 Responses to “Oz Election”

  • IMO any government that loses an election is going to have to do three to five terms in opposition no matter how good they are. It seems to be the incumbency advantage in the Auian system.

  • The only example I can think of where the Liberals displayed the discipline necessary to come back quickly after losing office is in 1972-5. Apart from this, the general rule is that after the Liberals lose office, they move into the following destructive cycle:

    1) bemusement, puzzled that a big white car no longer comes and picks them up to do stuff. They blame marketing or other ephemeral factors and sneer at the new government establishing itself.

    2) bitterness, sneering at voters for being so stupid. New Minister X is compared invidiously to Former Minister Y, now languishing under a barrage of gloating from the new government or swanning up and down Collins Street looking sleek.

    3) bombast, having picked a fight with the new government on which they’ve been soundly thrashed they cannot accept that they are being done by a disrespected foe and that the media aren’t giving them the respectful treatment they had once enjoyed.

    4) bunfighting, with a leadership challenge being clumsily executed (whether or not the incumbent stays), which is predicated on the idea that because they are only a few seats behind the ALP government, they don’t have to do much to get back in – pick a few areas of voter dissatisfaction and just float back in.

    5) burial, in which a careful Labor government is rewarded with a landslide over a lazy, out of touch Liberal government who only offer (insofar as they’ve thought about it at all) to do much the same as they did before they were turfed. Good MPs lose their seats, good staffers realise they’ve wasted two to four years achieving precisely bugger-all. From here, go to 2) and start again.

    I sympathise with the idea that the Liberals won’t be out of office long. When Menzies won in 1949, nobody predicted that Labor would be in Opposition for 23 years, whereas in 1972 people assumed the Liberals would be in opposition for at least that. Your challenge is not just to hope, but to make the case why the Liberal Opposition that we have (Costello, Abbott et al, not some theoretical bunch of the wise and good) will not descend into a voter-repellent rabble by the time the Rudd government delivers its second Budget. Good luck!

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