Britain’s next PM and Brazilian runoff, Israeli and US midterm elections minus six to 16 days

Rishi Sunak set to win as Boris Johnson withdraws. Lula will probably defeat Bolsonaro in Brazil, Netanyahu could win again, and Republicans gain in the US.

6:52am Tuesday: Rishi Sunak is Britain’s next PM, after Penny Mordaunt conceded shortly before the close of nominations at midnight AEDT last night. He was the only candidate to pass the 100 nominations threshold. There will be no members’ ballot.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The next UK Conservative leader and PM will be decided by a fast-tracked process. Candidates will need at least 100 Conservative MP nominations by 2pm UK time today (midnight AEDT). As there are 356 Conservative MPs in the House of Commons, at most three candidates can reach the required nominations.

If only one candidate reaches the 100 nominations, that candidate is elected Conservative leader and PM. With former PM Boris Johnson withdrawing Sunday night UK time, only former Chancellor Rishi Sunak is likely to pass the 100 nominations required, and there will be no Conservative members’ ballot. That ballot was to be conducted by Friday using online methods.

The Guardian’s tracker of public endorsements from MPs gave Sunak 144 endorsements, Johnson 57 and Penny Mordaunt 24; she was the last eliminated candidate in the previous contest. Johnson claimed he had 102 nominees (including non-public endorsements), but did not continue his campaign even though he would have likely won a members’ vote, as he did not want to be leader of a parliamentary party that had rejected him decisively.

Since the September 23 “horror” budget, Liz Truss’ brief tenure has been marked by dire and worsening polls for the Conservatives. In eight national polls taken since last Sunday, Labour led by between 27 and 39 points. These polls were taken after Truss sacked Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng on October 14 and replaced him with Jeremy Hunt.

In May 2021, I wrote for The Conversation that non-university educated whites are shifting to the right. However, a danger for right-wing parties is a perception they want to slash government services – examples are Australian polls after the 2014 budget and US polls during Donald Trump’s first year as president, in which he was attempting to gut Obamacare. We now have another example.

Brazilian presidential runoff: October 30

At the October 2 first round of the Brazilian presidential election, the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) led the far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro by a 48.4-43.2 margin. As nobody won over 50%, the contest goes to a runoff this Sunday. Lula was president from 2003 to 2010.

Polls for the runoff have narrowed to include more Bolsonaro voters after they understated his first round support. There has been further narrowing in the last week, with Lula ahead by just 52-48 in this poll aggregate; a recent poll gave Bolsonaro a 51-49 lead.

Even if Lula wins, the legislature is likely to be difficult for him. In my live blog of the first round election, I wrote that right-wing parties won a majority in both chambers of the legislature. Bolsonaro’s Liberal party performed particularly well.

In the last three years, left-wing candidates have won presidential elections in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. A win in Brazil would cement the left’s dominance in South America even as they struggle in Europe.

Israel: Netanyahu’s bloc ahead and could win a majority

The Israeli election will be held November 1, after a government formed to keep out former PM Benjamin Netanyahu collapsed in June. The 120 members of the Knesset are elected by national proportional representation with a 3.25% threshold.

Right-wing parties that are likely to support Netanyahu are his own Likud, the religious Shas and UTJ, and the far-right Religious Zionists. The last four polls give these right-wing parties a combined 59-62 Knesset seats, while the current governing parties have 54-57 seats. An Arab party that is not part of the government has the remaining four seats.

US: Republicans gain and could win both chambers at midterms

I wrote for The Conversation last Thursday that Republicans have gained in the polls for the US November 8 midterm elections. Since that article, the FiveThirtyEight forecasts for the House and Senate have worsened for Democrats.

Democrats now have a 55% chance to hold the Senate (61% last Thursday), while Republicans have an 80% chance to gain the House (75% previously). Republicans have taken a 0.5-point lead in the national House popular vote after trailing by 0.3% last Thursday; this is Republicans’ first lead since early August.

46 comments on “Britain’s next PM and Brazilian runoff, Israeli and US midterm elections minus six to 16 days”

  1. My US Senate expectation is that Democrats and Republicans will trade Nevada and Pennsylvania. Although much can change even in such a short period.

    Pretty crazy that Nevada will go red while Arizona stays blue! (if that does end up being the case.)

  2. “and there will be no Conservative members’ ballot. “… That’s a very dangerous move, as the Conservatives risk a very serious backlash at the next general election if Sunak becomes leader…

    The Conservatives are deluded if they want to adopt a strategy to win the next general election. That election is already lost to them. The issue is to save as much furniture as they can, and I doubt that Sunak will achieve that.

  3. “In May 2021, I wrote for The Conversation that non-university educated whites are shifting to the right.”… and would those voters accept a PM of Indian origin? They were the hard-core Brexiters, protesting against the foreign invasion of the UK, the transformation of national identity… and average colour of the skin….

    The Conservatives kept themselves in office by exploiting some of the ugliest aspects of the British soul… and now they will pay the price.

  4. “In the last three years, left-wing candidates have won presidential elections in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. A win in Brazil would cement the left’s dominance in South America even as they struggle in Europe.”…

    Yes, that’s a very important point. The progressive shift of South America is worth emphasising, especially if the US Democrats win the mid-term elections as predicted by Mike Moore ( ). Europe is divided between right-wing and left-wing governments, but I see this as evidence of a transition. If Europe starts embracing the Social Democratic way to economic progress, social justice and environmental sustainability in earnest, it’s likely that the pendulum will also shift left there, as the people will react to the real benefits coming with the shift. The transition will fail, if Social Democrats remain ambiguous and still tied to old and failed Neoliberal views.

  5. Israel is becoming like Italy: everything seems to be a mess and in permanent state of change, but in reality nothing fundamental ever changes.

  6. I’m led to believe there’s a large ‘anyone but Sunak’ bloc among Tory MPs. With Johnson gone, Mordaunt still has time to harness that sentiment and get over the line. She only needs 100 supporters, even if it’s 100 to 256.

  7. EightES

    The logic re Mordaunt makes sense, but there is now a momentum behind Sunak that I would not have predicted could happen.

    How the parliamentary party can possibly see Rishi Sunak as a ‘unity’ candidate is a puzzle, to put it politely.

    I I agree with one MP’s reported comments on BBC that desire for respect is a 2-way street.

    Clearly Rishi is perceived to have not shown it, so won’t get it from a portion of the membership and some diehard Boris-backing M.P.s. even though >200 MPs appear to be already behind him.

    Penny is surely a grown-up candidate who, by contrast, has these benefits for the Conservatives:

     Can unite the party as can be acceptable to the membership and all wings of the parliamentary party
     Has similar tenure in government to date as Rishi Sunak
     Will continue strong on defence and Ukraine in particular, out of conviction rather than expedience (please excuse me Rishi. . .)
     Strong and pragmatic person, and unlikely to make the kind of mistakes Truss made
     Has wide reach and able to play on Labour’s turf, giving a real chance – a slim one now, but the best chance they have minus Boris – that the Conservatives can win the next election (or lose it respectably if that’s the bar people want to set)

  8. BRAZIL:

    Hard to believe from a few weeks ago, but unlike Adrian I now believe Bolsonaro is winning – so unless there is a big faux pas or shift for some other reason in the last 6 days he will be President again for 4 years.

    Lula has been quite exposed re corruption in this campaign, and clearly doesn’t know how to defend himself effectively. Attempts to sling the mud back on the other side re corruption haven’t stuck overall.

    Meanwhile lots of so-called ordinary / sensible people eg business people or moderate politicians have actually come out in support of Bolsonaro so the picture painted of him being extreme has receded in the glare of the campaign rather than the opposite.

    I may be wrong but can see Bolsonaro winning with 52% of the vote or so.

    Unlike most on here, I do see him as the least bad of 2 very poor options in Brazil – though I wish that he uses the clout of his office to row back on the mismanagement / accelerated ‘demolition’ of the Amazon. You don’t have to be that greeny to see that as common sense, and nor does it mean that every bit of development will be bad, either.

  9. “BTSays says:
    Monday, October 24, 2022 at 7:57 pm

    Recent poll aggregates published on 21 October show Lula at 48%, ahead of Bolsonaro who is at 44%. However, the trend has been for Lula to slightly go down over time, whereas Bolsonaro has jumped in support. The jump for Bolsonaro is strange and we will have to see the actual result to test its veracity.

    Let’s just hope that the process is fair and legal… Given Bolsonaro’s personality and performance as president everybody should be alert.

  10. Sir Keir Starmer gave an interview to LBC laying out a few of his policy positions:

    Starmer said that there was “not a great deal” between Labour and the Tories in their support for a points-based immigration policy. Labour would scrap the Rwanda scheme, under which people arriving in the UK seeking asylum can be sent to Rwanda, Starmer said. But on immigration generally he said:

    Now we don’t have free movement any more, then you either have a pure numbers game or you have a points-based system that says ‘well, for certain types of jobs, certain types of roles here, you would get a number of points’. I think that makes sense.

    So, in that sense, not a great deal between the major parties on immigration.

    We would have a slightly different approach and I would particularly want to welcome really good students. I feel that over the years we’ve put good students off coming here and many of them have ended up going to Australia and Canada and the US. I would want to see the best possible students coming to this country to study.

    * He said Labour would not grant new oil and gas licences. “We accept there’s got to be a transition, so where there is oil and gas already being yielded that needs to continue as part of the transition, but no new sites, no new fields to be opened,” he said.
    * He said Labour would not rejoin the EU under his leadership. “We’re not going back into the EU,” he said. “That isn’t a position of my party, that isn’t what an incoming Labour government would do.”
    * He said he and other Labour figures will not attend the World Cup in Qatar because of its human rights record.

  11. Alposays:
    Monday, October 24, 2022 at 2:45 pm
    Israel is becoming like Italy: everything seems to be a mess and in permanent state of change, but in reality nothing fundamental ever changes.

    Nothing ever changes as long as Bibi is contesting the elections. The election is is always centred on him.

  12. Alpo

    I think Brazil’s electoral set-up is rightly lauded as quite robust, and therefore the count is likely to be accurate.
    And to the extent that there’s any risk it might not be, I would think it as [least as] likely to be the result of malfeasance on the other side than Bolsonaro’s.

    But really, I doubt it’s an issue.

  13. Now that Sunak’s in, he’s got a very good chance of stability as leader. He has repeatedly been the party room’s favorite. He’s got financial credibility. He’s a massive signal that the Tories consider something other than a far right style of nationalism to be their thing. They might lose some of the voters they gained while pursuing a right-nationalism path, but they’ll pick up many more voters. Electorates tend to be forward-looking and expectations will quickly recalibrate. He’s got a couple of years up his sleeve — timed completely at his leisure, because an early election will always be justifiable — and his government will be a breath of fresh air after Truss. I have no confidence that he’ll win a GE, but the polls will quickly return to normal territory, the Conservatives have just given themselves their best chance and I think it’s not a bad one at all.

  14. Alberto Kenya Fujimori Inomoto (Spanish: [alˈβeɾto fuxiˈmoɾi] or [alˈβ̞eɾ. t̪o fu(ɟ)ʝiˈmoɾi]; Japanese: 藤森謙也, born 28 July 1938) is a Peruvian statesman, professor and former engineer who was President of Peru from 28 July 1990 until 22 November 2000.

    So Rishi Sunak becoming a leader of a country, where overwhelming majority of people are of different origin is not completely new.

  15. Bugger. I was really hoping Mordaunt would get up, so I could be the guru who predicted it at the start. Never mind, I’ll probably get another go in the next couple of months or so.

  16. The Tories use an odd system to elect their leader.

    The initial selection is by MP’s, but the final decision is by party members. However the 1922 committee can adjust the hurdle for nominating at all – and changed it this time from needing 20 MP’s to nominate (when Truss was elected) to 100 this time.

    Sunak had the highest number of MP supporters last time but lost the member’s ballot, electing Truss on a right wing Agenda that did not match the MP’s own preferences.

    The 1922 committee ‘fixed it’ this time by making it difficult for the matter to go to the members.

    Comparisons with the system used by the Australian Labor party come to mind, but that is/was much more transparent.

  17. Backgrounding:

    The president of the Hindu temple set up by the new Tory leader’s grandfather has described it as “our Barack Obama moment”.

    Sunak glided through top public school Winchester College, Oxford University, Goldman Sachs, Stanford and a top hedge fund. That has become a well-trodden path to political power, regardless of race. Class, more than race, seems to be a determining factor in British politics.

    He is married to Akshata Murty, a British-based Indian fashion designer, and Indian IT heiress. Between them, they are worth around $1.378 billion.

  18. “ItzaDream says:
    Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at 10:54 am

    The president of the Hindu temple set up by the new Tory leader’s grandfather has described it as “our Barack Obama moment”.”

    Hmmm… what are the points in “common” between Obama and Sunak, again?

  19. “Ven says:
    Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at 8:43 am
    Alberto Kenya Fujimori Inomoto”

    Ven, Fujimori was a Neoliberal leader (so far the comparison holds)…. who ended up in jail for corruption and human rights abuses!…. Good luck to Rishi!!

  20. “Felix the Cassowary says:
    Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at 8:37 am
    Now that Sunak’s in, he’s got a very good chance of stability as leader. … they’ll pick up many more voters.”

    … and where are those “many more voters” going to come from?

  21. Alpo @ #22 Tuesday, October 25th, 2022 – 11:32 am

    “ItzaDream says:
    Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at 10:54 am

    The president of the Hindu temple set up by the new Tory leader’s grandfather has described it as “our Barack Obama moment”.”

    Hmmm… what are the points in “common” between Obama and Sunak, again?

    That which is common to us all? Out Of Africa?

  22. “He has repeatedly been the party room’s favorite.”

    If you mean the Conservative party, that’s the opposite of the truth.

    Even if you mean the parliamentary Conservative party, this is the first time he has a majority of MPs in favour of him. He did get a plurality last time, but only modestly ahead of Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt in the last round and on a H2H with Liz Truss would almost certainly have lost even among MPs alone (obviously that never takes place as the last two candidates are taken to the party membership).

    Though if you mean the birthday party. . .

    Rishi may well restore the Tories’ fortunes pretty well where they are up against the Lib Dems (aka the Blue Wall roughly speaking), and may even hold the ground on their handful of Scottish seats (not sure about that one), but the first-time votes the party got for Boris in 2019 especially among the working class, are almost certainly now an aberration that has gone for good.

    That makes winning a majority basically impossible – no-one expects them to be doing so well in some areas that they actually win seats, let alone enough of them to offset losses in Yorkshire, N-E England and West Midlands, for example.

  23. Maybe the UK needs someone like Rishi Sunak for a little while to put things back into perspective and make them want someone more interesting, optimistic and who connects at their level again – like Penny Mordaunt or Boris.

    It may also diminish the appeal of Keir Starmer as the ‘boring, responsible’ option if they’ve got / recently had one already.

    Who knows?

    As human beings we’re very fickle.

  24. Given the Queen died 48 hours after appointing Liz Truss as PM, What are the odds that King Charles drops dead on Thursday?

    Also I never realised that Rishi Sunak is so short.

  25. Alpo on Mon at 9.21 pm

    Recent Brazilian polling with some demographic differentiation is at:

    Bolsonaro is marginally ahead among men (47% to 46%) but Lula has a clear lead among women (49% to 41%). There are also more undecided women.

    While the samples might be small, Lula leads among first-round Tebet voters (43% to 36%) as well as among Gomes voters (44% to 40%). Datafolha poll in early Oct.

    Another poll, Genia/Quaest, had 53% of respondents expecting Lula to win, compared to 32% for Bolsonaro.

    Gap appears to be about 5%, similar to the gap in the first round.

    “A poll by IPEC on Monday showed Lula with 50 percent support compared with 43 percent for Bolsonaro, while another poll by AtlasIntel showed the left-wing former leader with 52 percent to Bolsonaro’s 46.2 percent.

    That is up from 51.1 percent for Lula and 46.5 percent for Bolsonaro, according to a previous AtlasIntel poll two weeks ago.”

  26. “Maybe the UK needs someone like Rishi Sunak for a little while to put things back into perspective and make them want someone more interesting, optimistic and who connects at their level again – like Penny Mordaunt or Boris.”

    Johnson is ‘interesting’, but I think the polling numbers show that the UK public have had enough of him. Mordaunt? Sunak has slightly better favourability polling numbers than her (they are thrashed by Starmer and Labour, of course). I doubt Mordaunt and Johnson will connect better with the voters than Sunak.

  27. SP

    Only last week, there was a Yougov poll that showed 45% (27% ‘happy’, 18% didn’t mind either way) would be comfortable with Boris returning as PM

    In UK polling terms (where almost anyone in authority seems to have morbid ratings whilst in office) that’s really very respectable. 45% is bang on the Conservative party’s UK-wide vote achieved in the 2019 election, and this at a point of extreme nadir for the party equivalent to the mid-90s polling.

    (annoyingly, they don’t seem to have direct equivalent questions regarding others such as Mordaunt or Sunak.)

    Compare that to net -70% approval rating Liz Truss and multiple polls showing the [Conservative] party in the teens % for VI.

    Whilst we don’t have figures for Mordaunt or Sunak from the same poll, I think based on party polling numbers it would be safe to say Sunak at least, and probably any Tory you could name, would likely be polling significantly lower – though I expect him to get a bounce now he’s PM. He was polling lower than Boris around the time Boris left as PM.
    Mordaunt would probably have had a higher amount of DKs.

    The other part that the polls headline numbers don’t pick up is the enthusiasm deficit that other candidates command with their supporters compared to Boris (admittedly, it can cut both ways as he’s proven so polarising since Brexit), meaning you could expect turnout for him to be higher.

    The other factor that idk of polling companies have ever even attempted to fathom, is that I’m a firm believer that people like their politicians to be ‘interesting’ if not entertaining. Not a complete jerk or someone who doesn’t get things done, but someone who is optimistic and energetic and can electrify a room through humour rather than serious oratory.
    My theory is, that the middle pool of ‘undecideds’ sub-consciously like this intrigue, and end up voting for such even if they have been telling themselves (and pollsters!) that they disapprove of said character. To what extent no doubt depends on the general circumstances that coincide with said election.

    Not sure if anyone knows of any research into this area of psychology?

  28. P.S. I believe even Trump – who has a much more obnoxious character than Boris but nonetheless makes ‘good telly’ – benefits somewhat at the polls from the ‘interesting’ effect.

  29. The British like to be ruled. (And rule, but those days are well behind.) The queue says much about them. The more authoritarian and pompous their leaders the better they like them. I asked a cabbie why Boris would win, and he said because he spoke like an upper class twat. Which they like. It’s all so very Carry On.

  30. Rees-Mogg moving to the back bench says to me that he wants to be a spear carrier for Boz. Boz’s biggest issue was that circumstances got out of his control where he needed 12-18 months in exile before launching his leadership challenge.
    Like it or not Boz has Newscorp, the working class base and the Brexitiers in his corner. Rishi does not.

  31. ItzaDream

    Clearly you know nothing about the UK.

    We are confusing – given that we are broadly socialist yet idolise the royal family at the same time.

    We are an anti-authority bunch. Yet we do keep lots of rules even now that continental European countries quietly ignore.

    Overall rich or posh politicians are treated with suspicion at best – but we are, overall, fair-minded enough to ignore their background and see how they perform.

    There is really very little polling evidence to back up the claim that richer/posher politicians fare worse (or better) due to their richness/poshness.

    Meanwhile, recommend leaving posting to someone with knowledge on a topic or only post on psephology.

  32. Felix the Cassowary Tue 8.37 am

    Reportedly now 104 austerity options for Hunt’s statement, rescheduled for 17 Nov. Reason for delay: to finalise more cuts.

    If woeful Tory polling has not recovered much by late Nov, their new normal will be much worse than you presume. By reinstating Braverman, Sunak has shown his weakness early.

  33. BTSays Wed 5.45 pm

    Ever heard of “Mr Harbourside Mansion”, aka Turnbull, who went from go to almost woe in only 9 months? If Shorten’s Labor had had any sort of form in Victoria, Turbull’s legacy would have been even worse.

  34. Ven Tue at 8.31 am

    Don’t you think the remarkable loss to Ireland counts as a sort of golden duck for Sunak?

    While Sunak’s technique is not agricultural a la Truss, he has a noticeable overconfidence that may find expression in being bowled without playing a shot.

  35. Alpo on Mon at 9.21 pm

    For recent polling on the Brazilian second round see:

    If you look at the polls with larger sample sizes (Atlas, Ipec, Poderdata) there seems to have been no significant shift in the last couple of weeks.

    See also:

  36. Emelius van der Lubben on Mon at 1.56 pm

    The incumbent Social Democrat-led government of Mette Frederiksen looks likely to win the Danish election fairly comfortably. See:

    One feature is that the white nationalists in Denmark have, in contrast to the more extreme white nationalists in Sweden, lost ground since the last election. They are polling at less than 3%, when they got 8.7% in 2019.

    It is possible there is a sort of ricochet effect involved, in that the areas of Sweden where the white nationalists are strong are all in the south near Denmark. Seeing what has happened in Sweden may have alienated some Danish voters who had previously supported the white nationalists.

    The main shift in the polls during the campaign is that the opposition groupings when combined have dropped back. So this election will be in contrast to Sweden.

    The conservative Swedish government formed a week or so is heavily influenced by the white nationalists, although they have no ministries, so much so that the youth wing of the Swedish Liberals party opposed their party joining the government. It would take only a couple of defections from the Liberals for the government to fall.

  37. The nature of the new right wing Swedish government formed a week or so ago is indicated in these paras:

    “Hitherto, Sweden has accepted each year 5,000 ‘quota’ refugees—those selected by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, for resettlement in a third country and so the most vulnerable of all in need of protection. That number will be cut to 900 and will only include those with a ‘good predicted integration’. Family reunification will also be made more difficult.

    Moreover, all residence permits in Sweden will now be temporary. And, with compulsory tests of competence in Swedish and knowledge of Swedish society, it will be more difficult for immigrants to obtain Swedish citizenship. Both residence permits and citizenships (for individuals with more than one) will also be easier to revoke.”

    Nearly one third of the written agreement between the three Tory parties and the white nationalists concerns migration policy and new citizenship restrictions.

    The leader of the Moderate party and new PM, Ulf Kristersson, once promised a Swedish Holocaust survivor that he would never “enter any form of cooperation with the Sweden Democrats”, the white nationalists who got 20.5% of the vote. He broke his promise to become PM, supported by the neo-Nazi white nationalists.

    “To my friend Hédi, the Holocaust survivor, it is not only the breaking of a promise, but one of many symptoms of Europe’s collective forgetfulness about the dangers of allowing the far right into positions of power.”

  38. Brazil: polls seem to have at least stopped narrowing, if not a slight shift back to Lula.

    As we know, momentum can be everything in a tight election.

    I’m now thinking TCTC.

    The debate today, just 2 days before the election, is the last roll of the dice for both candidates realistically. Who wins today wins the election, I suggest.

  39. Having followed US politics for 44 years, I can confidently assert the Democrats are going to be smashed. Concepts involving abortion and low unemployment have been overwhelmed by inflation and general malaise. They will lose the House by about 20, and the Senate by 3.

  40. “ Having followed US politics for 44 years, I can confidently assert the Democrats are going to be smashed. Concepts involving abortion and low unemployment have been overwhelmed by inflation and general malaise. They will lose the House by about 20, and the Senate by 3.”

    That’s my gut feel as well. The late momentum in the tight senate races appears to be with the republicvnts, as once again, the ‘inability’ of democrats – when in government – to magically part the waters and fix the malaise of years of republicvnt misrule in 18 months is ‘rewarded’ by the democrat base failing to tun out and ‘independents’ rewarding the arsonists.

    This goes beyond the usual maxim that the party in power generally does poorly in the midterms. The GOP have been able to buck that trend at key moments over the past 50 years and their ‘incremental’ ratcheting of regressive policies has effectively destroyed the republic. Next Tuesday will simply be another step on the inevitable pathway towards the destination of America the failed state. Thank goodness we are doubling down ‘all the way’ with the US of A. Hey …

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