Brexit, Argentina and elsewhere

Does Labour have any chance of winning the likely upcoming UK election? Yes. Also: the left wins in Argentina, plus Israeli and US election updates. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Update Wednesday morning: With Labour finally backing an election, the Commons overwhelmingly passed on Tuesday a bill setting the election for Thursday, December 12.  An amendment to hold the election on December 9 was rejected by 315 votes to 295.  The bill now goes to the House of Lords, where it is expected to pass quickly.  The Commons will be dissolved next Wednesday.

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 Monday, despite some objections from French President Emmanuel Macron, the European Union agreed to a Brexit extension until January 31. However, Labour still does not appear to want an election, and so Monday’s vote on whether to hold an election will not achieve the two-thirds majority required.

However, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party (SNP) will assist by voting for a bill setting a December 9 election date. Legislation only requires a simple majority to pass. The government is likely to support this bill if they cannot win Monday’s vote. Commentator Stephen Bush wrote that Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is likely to pass eventually if parliament continues sitting, and so it makes sense for Remainers to vote for an election in the hope that the Conservatives will be defeated.

The Conservatives currently have a double digit lead over Labour in the polls. This partly reflects the greater unity of the Leave vote, with Labour and the Lib Dems both opposed to Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and no-deal, but the Lib Dems appealing to pure Remainers. The Conservatives received a further boost after agreeing the deal with the EU. Voting with the Conservatives to hold an election could damage the Lib Dems with Remain voters.

As we all know, Leave won the 2016 Brexit referendum by 51.9% to 48.1%. The trouble since then has stemmed from Leave being undefined. But had there been a clear proposal for Leave at that referendum, it would probably have lost – see the Australian 1999 Republic referendum. There would have been people who wanted to Leave in principle, but not with that particular deal.

Now that there is a clear Brexit proposal, it will be attacked during an election campaign by both Labour and Nigel Farage’s Brexit party. And there is plenty about the deal to attack from a left perspective.

Bush wrote that the proposed deal would mean a hard Brexit. If the UK leaves under this deal, a no-deal Brexit could occur in December 2020 once the transition period ends. If the Conservatives win the next election, there will probably either be a high-divergence Brexit, or a no-deal Brexit by December 2020.

The more Labour can turn the election into a referendum on Johnson’s deal, the greater their chance of winning.

Left wins Argentine presidential election

At the October 27 Argentine election, the centre-left candidate, Alberto Fernández, defeated the conservative incumbent president, Mauricio Macri, by a 48.0% to 40.5% margin. 45% or more was needed to avoid a runoff. Polls had predicted a Fernández win by almost 20 points. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was a controversial left-wing president from 2007 to 2015, returns as vice president.

Left-wing parties have performed well in recent national elections in Portugal, Canada, Argentina, Switzerland and Bolivia (see below). Does this mean the general trend to the right globally can or will be halted?

Election updates: Israel, the US, Switzerland and Bolivia

Right-wing Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a government, and returned the mandate on October 21. On October 23, the Israeli president nominated the left-leaning Blue & White leader Benny Gantz to attempt to form a government, and he has four weeks from that date. Expectations are that Gantz will also fail, and that elections will be required for the third time in a year.

Most US states hold their elections concurrently with federal elections, but there are a few state elections on November 5. Virginia and New Jersey will hold legislative elections, while Kentucky and Mississippi hold gubernatorial elections. Given presidential leans of these states, I expect Democrats to hold New Jersey and gain Virginia’s legislature, but Republicans to hold Kentucky and Mississippi.

On my personal website, I wrote about the Greens’ surge at the October 20 Swiss election, where a unique system of executive government is used. Also covered: the left-wing Bolivian president was re-elected for a fourth successive term, the far-right dominates Hungarian local elections despite a setback in Budapest, and the far-right surges in German and Italian October 27 state elections.

178 comments on “Brexit, Argentina and elsewhere”

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  1. It is not surprising that 6th November is on the calendar, but that no actual business is listed, as the intention is to dissolve Parliament at one minute after midnight.

  2. Sorry. I was wondering why there was any activity listed for next week at all. I suppose it takes a few days to dissolve the parliament.

    And I just noticed an odd thing.That calendar function seems mixed up, maybe it’s trying to accommodate different time zones. When I click on Wed 6 it lists activities in the Main Chamber, Westminster Hall and “Room 16, Palace of Westminster”. But it gives the date as Tuesday 5. Sorry for the confusion. (There is no Tuesday 6th November in 2019.)


    Gives a sense of how nuanced this election is. Its all going to come down to a collection of seat-by-seat behaviours.

    The Lib Dems splitting remain vote with Labour thus handing a swathe of seats to the Tories is my biggest fear (esp in Labor held remain seats but also marginal Tory remain seats). Farage having the opposite effect is tenable but far less likely.

    God i hope the students in Boris’ seat mobilise… there is some chance he is at risk of losing it, that’d be sweeeet.

    Some big remain money has to get Lab and Libs to cooperate in about 100 seats, gawd even Vince Cable is advocating tactical voting to prevent a Tory majority… I mean how obviously essential is it?

  4. I posted a few days ago about the possibility of Unionist vote splitting in Northern Ireland, which may result in Sinn Fein or Alliance being able to take seats from the DUP. The Ulster Unionist Party have now stated they will not run a candidate in North Belfast, increasing the chances that the DUP will be able to see off the challenge from Sinn Fein there, although it will still be one to watch. The DUP have stated they will not stand a candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, where the Ulster Unionist Party have the best chance of taking the seat from Sinn Fein who currently hold it by a small margin. This seat has changed hands before and should be very close.

  5. Is there any chance of the SDLP regaining any seats, perhaps on a we`ll turn up and vote against Brexit platform?


    THIS is a very good sign. Gosh if Sinn Fein can stand aside to promote Hermon (arch unionist but also a remainer) then anything is possible.

    This time around every seat is like a precious metal. Have to stop a Tory majority.

    Needs to catch on in England between LibDems and Lab (ok Greens and to allow indeps like Grieve to hold)… i think Boris could have a battle in his own seat if the opposition cooperated.

    Some controversy around whether tactical voting should be based on results of 2017 election (support the 2nd place finisher), or on current polling (support LibDems even where Labor a clear 2nd in 2017)… independent tactical voting advice is a big stretch. But its a whole other matter if parties cooperated. Its in LibLab self interest to do this, they can both win-win (in terms of maximising their respective seats)… i get that publicly it may look bad/weak/etc, so i really hope they are working behind the scenes. I doubt it though.

    Funnily enough, i think the country could tolerate Corbyn in a weak minority where he can only do something with the suppport of Lib Dems and SNP as controls. You get a non-hard-brexit tick and also avoid some of his daft 1970s throwback stuff.

    William – any chance we can keep a dedicated UK Election thread on p1 thru to Dec 13?

  7. I can’t really understand why Sinn Fein would oppose Boris’ brexit agreement – NI remains de-facto in the EU, and the new customs border in the Irish sea gets them that much closer to Eire and further from the Union.

    Win win?

    Of course, they may justifiably be sceptical of Boris’ WA actually ever happening, and more likely will be a hard brexit, with a hard border on the NI border.

  8. The next UK election post will be Thursday, after US state election results tomorrow.

    Better news for Labour from ICM. 31% is the highest Labour vote share from any pollster in a long time. There’s also a Welsh YouGov poll with Labour ahead by one, but I think they won Wales by 20 pts in 2017. PC = Plaid Cynru, a Welsh nationalist party, left-wing and pro-Remain, so more left vote splitting.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 38% (+3)
    LAB: 31% (+2)
    LDEM: 15% (-1)
    BREX: 9% (-2)
    GRN: 3% (-1)

    via @ICMUnlimited, 01 – 04 Nov
    Chgs. w/ Oct

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    Welsh Westminster voting intention:

    LAB: 29% (+4)
    CON: 28% (-1)
    BREX: 15% (+1)
    LDEM: 12% (-4)
    PC: 12% (-)
    GRN: 3% (-1)

    via @YouGov, 01 – 04 Nov
    Chgs. w/ 14 Oct

  9. I have suspected for a while that as the election drew closer, polls would gravitate more and more towards the two majors, at the expense of LDs and BP. Early signs of that happening.

    The Portsmouth South poll is quite spectacular, but keep in mind its a sample size of 406. But still not totally surprising – looking at the history of the constituency – LDs won it in 2010 with 46%, then crashed to 22% in 2015. Then in 2017 labour won it with a swing of 21%. So its gone LD, Tory, Labour in the space of 3 elections. So a big swing back to the LDs this election is nothing out of the ordinary for this seat.

  10. This is an (extreme) example of a seat that the Torys mustnt win with 35% because LibLab split 55-60% between them.

    Here if Lab claw back 3pts from LibDem and Tories likewise from Brexit then Tories win the seat.

    This phenomenon at scale is what will deliver Boris a 50 majority on 38% of the national vote. Its happening in seats where a clear anti-right majority exists but frikkin FPTP lopsides it.

    Aus reps preferential vote is so by far the best system. A lib/lab/snp parliament could get this up… But need a one-time tactical vote deal to prevail

  11. This is a very thoughtful and well-researched article on Boris Johnson and Brexit:

    Johnson’s bravado, clarity of purpose in pursuing a harder form of Brexit, and natural reliance on personal diplomacy allowed him to win more from the EU than May could. His political dexterity and rising poll numbers, combined with the continued inability of the anti-Brexit opposition to agree on a strategy, also worked to convince EU leaders and officials that they were dealing with a figure likely to remain in power beyond the immediate Brexit crisis, even if in the end, the final result remained clearly within the EU’s red lines.

    To some extent, none of this matters. Without a majority in Parliament, Johnson has been left with the same impossible dilemma faced by May: Push ahead and risk domestic defeat or retreat in Europe and see Brexit delayed again. Yet here, we see also Johnson’s personality come through. In the days since he reached an agreement with Dublin (and later Brussels), Johnson defied expectations to unite his warring Conservative Party, while also attracting the support of enough independents and pro-Brexit opposition MPs to win the first in-principle majority for an EU divorce treaty since the U.K. voted to leave in 2016. This achievement alone had the effect of busting open the deadlock in British politics, forcing opposition parties to move and agree to the general election that Johnson has been pursuing.

  12. I agree about FPTP, still there is something quaintly adorable about all the candidates lining up on the stage on the same night of the election as their votes are read out and the winner is announced. There is something to be said for the certainty and simplicity of it all. That would obviously all go away if it was replaced by a preferential or proportional system – though it would be fairer.

  13. Scottish sub-samples from 2 recent YouGov polls.
    Wider margin of error but sub-samples are “weighted”.

    29th-30th October:
    SNP 44%,
    Conservatives 19%,
    Liberal Democrats 10%,
    Labour 9%,
    Brexit Party 8%,
    Greens 8%

    31st October-1st November:
    SNP 50%,
    Conservatives 22%,
    Labour 15%,
    Liberal Democrats 10%,
    Greens 2%,
    Brexit Party 1%

  14. Big A Adrian

    “ As other have pointed out, the lib-dems have a far larger UK-wide vote share than the SNP – from the last election.”
    How convenient.

    So the Number of seats in Parliament are less important than “vote share”?

    So why not allow government to be based on “vote share”? Can’t do that as that would be proportional representation not the sacred FPTP.

    But why not allow the the four leaders to debate?

  15. Seat projections.

    YouGov – 2019-11-04
    CON: 38%
    LAB: 25%
    LDEM: 16%
    BRX: 11%
    GRN: 5%
    SNP: 4%
    PC: 1%

    Flavible Projection
    CON: 379 (+61)
    LAB: 168 (-94)
    SNP: 49 (+14)
    LDEM: 31 (+19)
    PC: 4 (-)
    GRN: 1 (-)

    Flavible Projection – YouGov 2019-11-04
    CON: 38%, LAB: 25%, LDEM: 16%, BRX: 11%, GRN: 5%, SNP: 4%, PC: 1%,

  16. Something to note is that YouGov is generally Labour’s worst pollster, Labour’s YouGov vote is often four points below other polls.

    Here is a London YouGov poll. The first tweet is changes since the 2017 election, the 2nd changes since the May poll.

    Next thread tomorrow.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    London Westminster voting intention:

    LAB: 39% (-16)
    CON: 29% (-4)
    LDEM: 19% (+10)
    BREX: 6% (+6)
    GRN: 5% (+3)

    via @YouGov, 30 Oct – 04 Nov
    Chgs. w/ GE2017 result.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    London Westminster voting intention:

    LAB: 39% (+4)
    CON: 29% (+6)
    LDEM: 19% (-2)
    BREX: 6% (-4)
    GRN: 5% (-2)

    via @YouGov, 30 Oct – 04 Nov
    Chgs. w/ May 2019 poll

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