Brexit, Israeli election results and upcoming elections

Latest Brexit developments, stalemate in Israel and previews of elections in Austria, Portugal, Poland and Canada. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at The University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Boris Johnson said he wants a deal with the European Union, but has also said that if there is not a deal, he will ignore parliament’s legislation, and break free of the EU like “the Incredible Hulk”. Courts in Northern Ireland and England upheld parliament’s prorogation, but a Scottish court rejected it. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by next week. Polls in the last week gave the Conservatives nine-point or better leads, except for ComRes (just a one-point Conservative lead).

The key question is whether Johnson is serious about coming to a feasible deal with the EU, or is he pretending so he can blame the EU and parliament once talks collapse? A feasible deal would be attacked by Nigel Farage and hard Leave Conservative MPs, and be unlikely to pass parliament, which three times easily rejected Theresa May’s deal.

The remainder of this article will be a recap of the Israeli election, then previews of elections in Austria (September 29), Portugal (October 6), Poland (October 13) and Canada (October 21). Except for Canada, all these countries use proportional representation.

Neither side wins Israeli election 

The 120 Knesset members were elected by proportional representation with a 3.25% threshold. At the September 17 election, right-wing PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud won 31 seats, one behind the left-leaning Blue & White. With potential allies, Netanyahu had 55 seats, to 56 for the opposition.

Yisrael Beiteinu (YB), with nine seats, is the kingmaker. Netanyahu failed to form a government after the April 2019 election because YB advocated introducing conscription for the ultra-Orthodox, which religious parties opposed. YB’s leader, Avigdor Lieberman, said prior to the election that he would only join a Likud and Blue & White government. Neither the left nor the right can claim victory in this election.

Austria (September 29) 

Austria uses proportional representation with a 4% threshold. At the October 2017 election, the conservative ÖVP and far-right FPÖ formed government, having won a clear majority of seats. In May, this government collapsed after the FPÖ leader was accused of collusion with a Russian oligarch, and new elections were scheduled.

Polls have the ÖVP leading with 35.5%, followed by the centre-left SPÖ at 21.6%, the FPÖ at 19.8%, the Greens at 10.9% and the liberal NEOS at 8.5%. The ÖVP would prefer to govern with NEOS, but it is unlikely that these parties will have enough seats. The alternatives are another ÖVP/FPÖ government, or a grand coalition, which had governed prior to the 2017 election.

Portugal (October 6)

Portugal uses proportional representation at the regional level; bigger parties win a greater share of seats than their national votes imply. After the October 2015 election, the Socialists formed a minority government supported by the Left Bloc, Communists and Greens.

There has been a trend towards right-wing and far-right parties internationally, but Portugal is the exception. The Socialists have 39.6% in the polls, the combined vote for conservative parties is just 24.5% and other left-wing parties have a combined 24.1%. The only question, given the bonus for big parties, is whether the Socialists win a majority in their own right.

Poland (October 13)

Poland uses proportional representation in multi-member constituencies with a 5% national threshold for single parties and 8% for coalitions. At the October 2015 election, the Law and Justice (PiS) party won a majority on just 37.6%, as the centre-left coalition fell below the 8% threshold and was wiped out. While socially conservative and anti-immigrant, PiS is economically left-wing.

Polls for this election give PiS 45% of the vote, followed by a coalition of right and left-wing parties on 27% and a centre-left coalition on 13%. It is likely that PiS will win another majority, but the centre-left should return to parliament.

Canada (October 21)

Canada uses first-past-the-post. At the May 2011 election, the Conservatives won a majority on just 39.6% as left-wing parties split virtually all the remaining vote. Prior to the October 2015 election, which the centre-left Liberals won with a majority, current PM Justin Trudeau promised to reform the electoral system, but disappointingly he wimped out.

I will use CBC analyst Éric Grenier’s Poll Tracker. This currently gives the Conservatives 34.4%, the Liberals 34.1%, the left-wing NDP 13.8%, the Greens 9.5% and the Quebec Bloc 4.4%. Although the two major parties are tied in vote share, the Liberals are expected to win 167 of the 338 seats, the Conservatives 139, NDP 16, Quebec Bloc 12 and Greens four.

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.

68 comments on “Brexit, Israeli election results and upcoming elections”

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  1. I know Pelosi said something similar, but I missed this last week when Dems and Reps in Congress apparently both said it.

    The “Friends of Ireland” Caucus, which includes both Republicans and Democrats, made it clear they would not support any US-UK trade deal if Britain’s exit from the European Union in any way jeopardised the Good Friday Agreement.

    The article focuses white supremacy and has some interesting things to say on that front, but is it common knowledge in the UK that the US won’t support any trade deals with the UK if the GFA is threatened? At the very least it would take a while to convince the US Congress to accept a deal, which in itself makes it hard to believe that the UK will very quickly negotiate deals once it is “free of the EU shackles”, or WTTE.

  2. About my previous post, I just worked out the that reason I missed the statements last week is that they were made in August. So that particular issue has probably been simply forgotten by now.

  3. While Survation and ComRes both showed the Tories down two, YouGov has them up three and an 11-pt lead. Also notable: according to Survation, if no deal can be agreed, voters favour no-deal over a further delay by 49-43.

    Britain Elects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 33% (+3)
    LAB: 22% (-1)
    LDEM: 22% (-)
    BREX: 14% (-)
    GRN: 6% (+1)
    UKIP: 1% (+1)

    , 24 – 25 Sep
    Chgs. w/ 20 Sep

  4. The tide may be turning away from Johnson.

    Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said she is open-minded about Jeremy Corbyn becoming an interim prime minister as her representative in Westminster said the Scottish National party is now “desperate” for an election.

    Blackford has suggested the party could lend its support to a vote of no confidence in Johnson following the supreme court ruling that the prorogation of parliament was unlawful. He said it would then be the correct procedure to allow Corbyn to become interim leader.

    (Blackford leads the SNP in the Commons.)

    “This is not about supporting Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, it’s about what we need to do to get to the situation where we have an election,” he added. The desire to remain in the EU among Scots is stronger than ever, he claimed. The country voted 62% remain in the 2016 EU referendum.

  5. Swinson is a hypocrite. She’s basically made revoking brexit the sole purpose of her party, yet at the same time she stubbornly sticks to her “no Corbyn no matter what” stance. Even though installing Corbyn as interim PM is the only even half way viable solution presented so far to stop a crash out on October 31

  6. Something new to consider. (Well, new for me.)

    Even if Johnson succeeded in crashing out of the EU at the end of next month, a newly elected administration might still manage to repair the broken relationship, one prominent lawyer has suggested. Prof Mads Andenas QC, a former director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, said: “If the date is passed by tricks and cheating, and a new PM installed, there is nothing barring the two sides to the exit, in the following week, giving a new extension. When parties to a treaty agree, they most certainly can do this … In that situation a new government could also choose to withdraw the article 50 application altogether,” adding: “The ECJ is not likely to entertain any challenge.”

    It sounds flimsy to me, but maybe it’s worth a serious second opinion or three. Wouldn’t the problem though be that stealing Brexit from the Brexiteers would generate immediate civil unrest, do little for business confidence, and have long term chaotic political ramifications?

  7. Brexit is and will become a lesson in politics, whatever the outcome.

    For instance why is it we cloak an outcome, which until it happened was merely one of many possibilities, as “truth”? (rhetorical)

    Asked whether a deal could still be struck at the October EU summit, Stephen Barclay said the UK was approaching the “moment of truth” when a deal would happen.

    We can learn from the experts in how to spin the bad guys, with words like “install”, “wreck” and “plot”. As if any of this is a secret, or not within the rules, or Johnson wasn’t “installed” by a tiny minority of Brits, or Brexit isn’t controversial.


    The rhetoric dial is being twisted, hard. It’s almost as if the people clamoring (see what I did there) for Brexit-At-Any-Cost are worried. I have to admit though that they have the better rhetoric.

  8. Opinium has the Tory lead at 12, down from 15, but still hefty.

    Britain Elects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 36% (-1)
    LAB: 24% (+2)
    LDEM: 20% (+3)
    BREX: 11% (-1)


    Chgs. w/ 20 Sep

  9. Thanks Adrian. It’s difficult to remember that in a first past the post system that sort of lead means a lot more than in a preferential system. (I keep adding up the opposition percentages.) So it would come down to the heterogeneity of voting intention. And with a 12% nationwide lead for CON you might even say that in an election it comes down to isolated pockets of non-CON.

  10. Another head-scratcher.
    The idea that because the process of achieving Brexit hasn’t yet come to fruition means “democracy” is threatened, or deconstructed, or thwarted, or any of a handful of other favoured words is either dumb or disingenuous. My take on the contentious years since the vote is that what was a close-run but ill-defined and consequential choice is simply being played out in parliament. From what I can tell the main disagreement isn’t about Brexit but the form of Brexit. What’s more democratic than that? (And incidentally wasn’t it the pro-Brexit team that declared parliament was dead?)

    So either way (“loony or lying”?) this analysis doesn’t work at face value. What does work is that it might be a note of panic among “passionate Brexiteers”, as this author defines himself, that his “precious” may be lost at the last hurdle. I’ve seen other examples, so I expect that passion will escalate.

  11. I have read now a couple of articles where MPs have expressed concerns that Boris Johnson is deliberately talking up the possibility of riots and disorder if Brexit is not delivered, in order to justify declaring a state of emergency. This apparently could be a way for him to avoid asking for an extension to article 50 under the legislation passed by parliament before the suspension. This article discusses the possibility.

  12. Boris Johnson has been accused of squeezing a female journalist’s thigh in 1999.

    Another YouGov poll has the Tories lead at an unchanged 11 pts. Next Brexit thread tomorrow.

    Britain Elects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 33% (-)
    LAB: 22% (-)
    LDEM: 21% (-1)
    BREX: 13% (-1)

    , 26 – 27 Sep
    Chgs. w/ 25 Sep

  13. It is rare to read an article that does not couch Brexit in the language of war, but here’s one. Agree or disagree with the author’s points, it is nevertheless measured and thoughtful.

    It recognises that the Irish Government – and Nationalists in Northern Ireland – have legitimate concerns about Brexit and the future of the border, but also that Unionists have a very strong case for objecting to the backstop. The question is not about whether the existing approach breaches the Agreement but about finding a way through the impasse.

  14. Matt31 @ #61 Monday, September 30th, 2019 – 2:27 pm

    Thanks. One of the BTL comments:

    youve summed it up. You can say yes to brexit. And you can say no to “no deal”. I want to leave this building. I want to leave it by walking through a ground floor door. I do not think jumping through a 6th floor window is how best to leave a building. I can say that without it meaning “we have to stay in this building forever”. Get that door open! We can then all stop fighting. Loads of people who voted remain respect they lost that vote. They just didn’t think that meant they were tied in to some insane economic suicide pact. Make a reasonable exit deal boris and all the anger will start to fade (apart from those who love to be angry of course)

  15. Andrew Adonis @Andrew_Adonis
    ‘Farage asks for a pint. The barman draws it & throws it into his face. ‘Why did you do that?’ ‘You asked for a pint, but you didn’t say how you wanted it delivered.’ Farage: ‘I’ll have a pint in a pint glass.’ ‘No. You can’t ask again.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Democracy.'”

    The article discusses Johnson’s tactics and reliance on Dominic Cummings, and draws the parallels with the lawyer, Roy Cohn, who influenced McCarthy, Nixon, and Trump.

    One Cohn method was the relentless recitation of a damaging falsehood. Trump incanted “crooked Hillary” at every turn and eventually wore her down.

    Likewise, Johnson, when pinned down by Marr over his dismissal of threats of violence against MPs as “humbug”, robotically repeated “get Brexit done” and accused opponents of surrender. The maxim is: never back down, never apologise.

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