Rockin’ all over the world

Hypothesis one, from Peter Brent at Mumble: “Canada’s one-term government going for re-election (after only 18 months), amidst world economic turmoil, should provide some clue as to how Rudd & co might fare at the next election.”

Hypothesis two, from Adam in Canberra at this place: “It’s curious that the financial crisis seems to be working in favour of the incumbents in NZ (on the basis of one Morgan poll) and (I think so far) Australia, but against the incumbents in the US and Canada. That would suggest that conservatives are being blamed, not incumbents.”

Let’s do a very quick whiz round to see how things seem to be travelling in various comparable democracies.

United States: Barack Obama opens up 11-point lead over John McCain. “BARACK Obama has opened up an 11-point lead over John McCain in the latest Gallup Poll – his biggest margin of the campaign.”

Germany: Merkel party slumps in poll as financial crisis hits Germany. “The CDU and her sister party, the Christian Social Democrats (CSU), fell four points to 33 percent which is the lowest level since early 2007, according to a survey released jointly by the Hamburg-based Stern news magazine and the commercial RTL broadcasting network.”

New Zealand: New Zealand Election Tightens. “In early October 2008 the New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows National Party support at 40.5% (down 7%), a tight lead over the Labour Party 37.5% (up 1%). If the Election were this weekend there would be a hung Parliament in New Zealand with either major party capable of forming a governing coalition.”

United Kingdom: Labour halves Tory lead in opinion poll: “The opposition was ahead of the ruling party by a record 20-points last week. Today, a YouGov poll, commissioned by The Sun, showed the Labour party stood at 31 points – a 10 point gain on the previous gap.”

Canada: Harper keeps sinking in polls. “With Stephen Harper and his Conservatives losing popularity throughout most of the country, the poll-takers yesterday offered the party a gloomy diagnosis: They see few signs of improvement before voting day on Tuesday.”

Though admittedly …

Italy: Berlusconi honeymoon with the Italians. “They call it ‘honeymoon’. This is no romantic movie, though, it’s the nickname that Italian newspapers gave to a new political phenomenon: Berlusconi’s personal degree of favor among the Italians, his popularity has now reached 60%.”.

Italy always was different, I guess. I’m calling it a win for hypothesis two.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

233 comments on “Rockin’ all over the world”

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  1. “Canada’s one-term government going for re-election (after only 18 months), amidst world economic turmoil, should provide some clue as to how Rudd & co might fare at the next election.”

    Harper was elected and form a minority government. Our election wasn’t so close.

  2. My opinion, is that in uncertain times, people back the party that is percieved to have a greater “social concience”.

    Its easy to subscribe to free market policies when the economy is booming. much harder when fear sets in.

    The happy junior capitalists are becoming closet socialists. 🙂

  3. Austrian fascist leader. When his party went into a coalition government with the conservatives the EU placed sanctions against Austria. The fascists gained a significant swing and quite a few seats in the recent election.

  4. On the other hand the “left-wing” government in Peru has collapsed. However the Peruvian and Ukrainian examples are more nation specific than related to the financial crisis.

    I also wonder how easy it is to dissociate the last polls from NZ and Canada from the financial crisis, and the regular narrowing that goes on as the election draws closer.

  5. More random polls:

    In the NZ election, the National lead over Labor in the TV3 poll has halved from 13% (49-36) to 6% (45-39).

    It’s becoming increasingly unlikely that the Nationals will be able to form a majority government in NZ…

  6. Mumble is now channeling the OO. What about the polls Mumble. Isnt that what youre interested in?? Um, essential 58/42, morgan 57/5/42/5, Newspoll 55/45 etc etc

    Very scary indeed…I dont remember Brent ever being this bad

  7. John Key was Merrill Lynch’s global head of foreign exchange. Probably something you would not want on your resume heading into an election. 🙂

  8. Adam in Canberra
    Posted Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Jorg Haider dead. Good riddance.

    Adam you are very unwise to believe this i must admit!
    Haider split the far right vote how would you like it now that the FPO will almost certainly get all of the BZO (10%) vote and go into the high 20s!!!! That is not good the only good thing was the far right split its vote, now the FPO will become as dominant as the OVP not good news.

    How typical it’s the conservatives to blame…it always has to be. What a JOKE!

  9. [How typical it’s the conservatives to blame…it always has to be. What a JOKE!]

    Glen, this is how politics works, its not fair, it is a JOKE. But it is what it is. At the moment small govt. market rules, ideas are as popular as ebola.

    Not fair, get used to it. 🙂

  10. Glen, Haider was a loathsome N*zi t*rd and I don’t care what the political consequences of his demise are, I am just pro-demise-of-N*zi-t*rds.

    On the serious matter, IF the Tories lose in Canada, AND Labour is re-elected in NZ, AND British Labour comes back in the polls, AND Obama has a monster win, AND Rudd gets a poll bounce, you will have to conclude that in the English-speaking world (ie, the direct sphere of US cultural-political influence), conservatives as a generic category are being blamed by the voters for the current world economic disaster. These things haven’t yet, but there are signs that they are going to.

  11. I don’t like Haider any more than you do Adam but his death is a boost to the FPO and that is dangerous another election result like the last one and far rightist will be a dominant force in Austrian politics. If i were Austrian id be voting OVP, i dont like the FPO or BZO.

  12. Glen,

    While the Tories will still prob win in both Canada and NZ, it won’t be with the majority governments that were predicted for both parties in recent months. Almost certainly, both will need the help of centrist parties to win government.

    As for the UK tories, they’re now in a tricky situation. If their lead narrows further, they almost certainly won’t be able to form a majority government, as most of their core vote is located in Tory strongholds throughout the South-East. The small blessing for them is that it looks certain that Gordon Brown won’t be deposed by the Labour party as their leader while this polling improvement continues…

  13. Glen

    Have you listened to John Key?

    [Q: What mistakes would you own up to since becoming leader of the National Party?

    A: When I found out that I had more TranzRail shares than had been assumed I should have made that clear.]

    This is creaming Key, “I don’t know how many shares I have” ? Makes Santo look like a saint. 😉

  14. [ As for the UK tories, they’re now in a tricky situation. If their lead narrows further, they almost certainly won’t be able to form a majority government, as most of their core vote is located in Tory strongholds throughout the South-East. ]

    Have the Lib Dems said who they’d support if they had the balance of power? Unless they lose a lot of seats, that could quite possibly happen.

  15. [Have the Lib Dems said who they’d support if they had the balance of power? Unless they lose a lot of seats, that could quite possibly happen.]

    First, the Lib Dems have been saying that this situation could happen since 1983 – it hasn’t. The last minority government in the UK lasted from Feb 1974 to Oct 1974, when it collapsed.

    However, if the Lib Dems do end up with the balance of power, they haven’t yet indicated who they will support (a smart move, as they draw votes from both the Tories and Labour). There was some speculation in the 1980s and early 1990s of a Lib-Lab alliance – however, the rise of Blair brought an end to any such speculation.

  16. Le Pen has just turned 80 so his demise would hardly be remarkable.

    I actually think it’s unfair to compare Fortuyn to Haider and Le Pen. He was a left-winger on everything except his hostility to Muslim immigration, and even that he presented in a “left” way.

  17. Adam

    As you say Fortuyn is often compared with Haider and le Pen, although he always disavowed their politics. There were a few similarities. He certainly was a fascinating politician. I don’t think he could be really compared with any other successful politician in the world to my admittedly limited knowledge.

  18. I agree with Adam on this one and I think the voters have swung against the neo-cons. One of the principal causes of the crisis has been unregulated aspects of financial markets. If voters are punishing those who are ideologically anti-regulation then they have gotten it right. But it doesn’t have to be a purely anti-conservative thing. There is a lot of room between Keynes and the pure free-market anti-regulation neo-con rightists. I’d love to hear how a more moderate conservative such as Sarkozy was going in France. He is right wing but has defended France’s strict finance laws and I bet that will win him a lot of votes. So anyone espousing neo-con policies is deservidly in trouble but I don’t see why that should necessarily extend to all of the parties of the right.

    Also agree with Adam on Haider – a much smarter and nastier Austrian version of Pauline Hansen.

  19. The French gaullists have always been etatistes and have rejected le Thatcherisme and other doctrines of les Anglo-Saxons. In good times this makes them look rigid and old-fashioned, creates high unemployment and breeds corruption, but at times like this it looks very sensible. Since no-one in French politics has ever sought to emulate the US Republicans, no-one will suffer from this turn, unless the French economy really tanks. The same is true in Italy. Those who will suffer are those who can be directly linked to US-style deregulationism – the British and Canadian Tories, the Australian Liberals and the NZ Nationals. Possibly also the German CDU.

  20. It should be pointed out that Sarkozy is the one of the most economically conservative Presidents France has had.

    I also don’t think it’s apt to automatically link every poll narrowing/bounce/change to the financial crisis.

  21. Oz

    Of course I don’t suggest the economics is the only factor. But because its a world wide problem then if influential it could cause a shift in polls. The effect varies with local factors, but on overall trend, Adam’s thesis looks pretty right. Overall I think it realy signals a shift to the centre rather than the left, because most “left/progresive” parties are a long way from socialism these days.

  22. Sarkozy now his personal life in order, he can play the European statesman because Brown and Merkel are both struggling, he has a feeble and demoralised opposition – plus he is in fact a very talented politician. So I’m not surprised he has bounced back.

  23. If Adam is right (and I think he is), the shift to the left would be all the more remarkable as this article from 25 Sept 08 says that across Europe the recent trend has been AWAY from the left to the right.


    Can Pollbludger take out a patent on the Carr Hypothesis ❓

    [“Austrian social democracy,” says Fritz Plasser, a leading analyst, “is in a deep crisis, over its identity, over its programme, and over its prospects.”

    The same might be said about almost anywhere you look in Europe. If Labour is anxious about Gordon Brown and the prospects of electoral meltdown, the picture is similarly grim for the centre-left in Germany, France, Italy and beyond.]

    Surge in support for far right ahead of poll reflects centre-left crisis across EU

  24. The centre issue is interesting. It’s like “Ok so enormous amounts of state intervention didn’t seem to work and the complete opposite didn’t seem to work so what’s left?”

    I can see a few political parties around the world become increasingly marginalised, if not wiped out completely. This is due to the fact that the old left parties have now moved across to the centre and dominated it while the right parties moved further right. Now they’re in an untenable position with nowhere to go.

  25. Adam, could you describe “Kevinism”? Do you mean “radical centrists” or tempered economic conservatism combined with progressive views on social issues?

    Diogenes, it’s especially weird considering all the analysts were up until very recently predicting that voters would leave middle parties for extremists on the right and the left.

  26. Kevin’s social views are not all that progressive, but he seems to be letting other ministers pursue their issues. McClelland has just put through bills on same-sex partnerships that would have been impossible in Hawke’s day. Paid maternity leave is another example. (What about paid leave for uncles, hey?) But the core of Kevinism is obviously extreme fiscal discipline, enforced by that pillar of the Socialist Right, Lindsay Tanner. In that sense the crisis is playing to Rudd’s strengths. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

  27. “Cometh the hour, cometh the man”

    I thought it was Rainmaker’s moment in history? Now you tell me it’s Rudd’s?

    I’m confused… is there room on the head of history’s pin for more than one Messiah?

  28. Rudd is not radically centrist in the traditional sense.

    Rather, he is economically conservative (but not radically so) and is also socially conservative (but allows his minions to prop up the socially progressive agenda). Rudd’s ideology, therefore, is that he has none – it’s all about pragmatism and sorting out whatever problems the country faces at that time. I think it’s reasonable enough – although it can lead to the perception that you’re not doing anything when the country isn’t facing a crisis…

  29. Yes I think that’s a fair summary. But since we *are* facing a crisis (two in fact – climate change hasn’t gone away), the perception is that he is (a) in charge and (b) not panicking, which is what the public wants right now. And those perceptions are correct – he is a control freak and he has nerves of steel. He is also (you will note) being very sparing with his rhetoric. This makes Turnbull look like a pompous windbag by contrast. (This perception is also correct.)

  30. Oz-i did not say he was a fundy,simply that he espouses a religous view of the world.

    As regards his rhetoric I strongly disagree,as he uses certain phrases to shape his narratives,influenced heavily by his upbringing.

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