Brexit, Austria and elsewhere

Polls conducted after Boris Johnson’s court defeat show the Conservatives maintaining the edge in Britain, as the centre-right recovers power in Austria. 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.

On September 24, the UK Supreme Court – the highest UK court – ruled the prorogation of parliament was illegal. The Commons resumed sitting the next day. Had parliament still been prorogued, the Commons would not have sat until October 14.

I previously thought Boris Johnson could defy parliament and refuse an extension, but this path seems increasingly difficult given hostility from both parliament and the courts.  On the other hand, the crux of Johnson’s public appeal is his promise to deliver Brexit by October 31 “come what may”.

If he fails, Leave voters are likely to be terribly disillusioned, and Conservative support will drop. ComRes polling shows this, and a Survation poll found no-deal favoured over a Brexit extension by 49% to 43% if a deal could not be reached. The five polls taken since the Supreme Court decision are between a tie and a 12-point Conservative lead.

The surest way for the Commons to prevent no-deal is to vote no-confidence in Johnson, then confidence in someone else. There are suggestions a vote could occur this week, but, as I wrote in August, this is unlikely to work. A Brexit deal appears unlikely, and would have to pass the Commons.  The European Union summit will be on October 17-18, and the legislation requires Johnson to extend Brexit by October 19 if no deal is reached.

I believe Labour’s policy of not explicitly backing Remain is correct, although it is complicated by Britain’s stupid first-past-the-post system, where votes lost on one flank do not return. In this September 26 Conversation article mainly about US politics, I theorised that the Brexit referendum result, Trump’s victory and the Australian Coalition’s triumph are partly explained by the perception that opponents were too close to “inner city elites”. By having a pro-Brexit position (contrary to elite opinion) at the June 2017 election, UK Labour performed far better than expected.

Right-wing parties win Austrian election, but can they work together?

Two weeks ago, I previewed the September 29 Austrian election and three other upcoming elections.  Austria uses proportional representation with a 4% threshold.  The conservative ÖVP won 73 of the 182 seats (up 11 since October 2017), the centre-left SPÖ 41  (down 11), the far-right FPÖ 32 (down 19), the Greens 23 (re-entering parliament after a disastrous split) and the liberal NEOS 14 (up four).  It was a record vote share for the Greens and NEOS, but worst for the SPÖ.  These figures do not include left-leaning declaration votes.

To form a majority, the ÖVP will need one of the FPÖ, SPÖ or Greens to join in a coalition.  A single-member system would have produced an ÖVP landslide.

Election updates: Israel, Portugal, Poland, Canada and the US

This section gives Israeli government (non)formation updates, and poll updates for the other four countries.  Information is current at Monday afternoon.

Final September 17 Israeli election results gave the left-leaning Blue & White (B&W) 33 of 120 Knesset seats, right-wing PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud 32, the Arab Joint List 13, other right and religious parties 23, other left parties 11 and Yisrael Beiteinu 8.  Three from the Joint List did not support B&W leader Benny Gantz, so Netanyahu had a 55-54 lead, and was given the first chance to form government by the Israeli president on September 25.  With talks stalled, Netanyahu may return this mandate this week.

Right-wing parties have gained ground for the October 6 Portuguese election, but are still far behind the combined vote for left-wing parties.

The economically left-wing, but socially conservative and anti-immigrant Law and Justice party is still likely to win a second successive majority at the October 13 Polish election.

For the October 21 Canadian election, the CBC Poll Tracker gives the Conservatives a 34.0% to 33.6% lead over the Liberals, with 13.7% NDP, 10.4% Greens and 4.8% Quebec Bloc.  The Liberals lead on seats with 162 of 338, to 139 Conservative, 16 NDP, 16 Bloc and four Greens.  There was little impact from Justin Trudeau’s “brownface” scandal.

Trump’s net approval is -10.4% with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, a small drop from -9.9% in my Conversation article.  There have not been many polls taken since the Ukraine revelations.  Trump’s approval had increased due to the economy.

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.

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