11:54am Friday HUGE win for Labour in the Rutherglen by-election, crushing the incumbent SNP by 31 points. This could set up big gains for Labour in Scotland at the next UK general election. The Tories lost their deposit (5% is needed to retain a deposit).
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.
Polls close at 8am Friday AEDT for a UK by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West. I explained in August that former Scottish National Party MP Margaret Ferrier was recalled after breaching COVID rules. In 2019, the SNP defeated Labour in Rutherglen by 44.2-34.5 with 15.0% Conservatives and 5.2% Liberal Democrats.
There will be two by-elections in the Conservative-held seats of Mid Bedfordshire (MBeds) and Tamworth on October 19. MBeds MP Nadine Dorries announced she would resign after Boris Johnson quit parliament in June, but delayed this until late August. Tamworth MP Chris Pincher was accused of sexual misconduct and resigned before a recall petition.
At the 2019 election, the Conservatives won MBeds by 59.8-21.7 over Labour with 12.6% Lib Dems. They won Tamworth by 66.3-23.7 over Labour with 5.3% Lib Dems. A mid-September poll had MBeds tied between the Conservatives and Labour.
On September 20, Conservative PM Rishi Sunak announced a weakening of green targets. Most UK national polls give Labour a 15-20 point lead over the Conservatives, but an Opinium poll taken last week had Labour just 10 points ahead. The swing to Labour and against the SNP in Scottish polls since the 2019 election should enable Labour to win Rutherglen.
NZ election: October 14
The New Zealand editor of The Conversation commissioned me to write about the October 14 election, so I haven’t been covering it here. My two NZ articles for The Conversation were published September 14 and 28.
NZ polls close at 5pm AEDT on election day. Owing to the clash with the Voice referendum, I won’t be providing live commentary on election night, but will do a wrap of the NZ and Polish results on October 16.
I have been doing graphs in my Conversation articles since July. The graph below shows the lead or deficit of the right coalition (National and ACT) over the left coalition (Labour, Greens and Māori) in all polls since March. There are trend lines for each pollster.
The only poll added since last week’s Conversation article was the weekly Verian poll, which gave the right coalition a 4.8-point lead, down from 7.1. That means NZ First, with 6% in this poll, would be needed for a right government (threshold is 5%). While the overall trend since March is to the right, there has been a drop in the right’s lead since mid-September, when they had an 8.4-point lead in the Verian poll.
Position vacant again: US House Speaker
Republican Kevin McCarthy was ousted as US House Speaker Wednesday AEDT by a 216-210 vote, with all Democrats and eight Republicans in favour. The election of a new Speaker requires a majority of all candidate votes, with abstentions and “present” votes not counting. McCarthy will not contest this election. The House adjourned until next week.
Right-wing Republicans were furious with McCarthy when he agreed a debt limit deal with Joe Biden in late May. I said he was more like a pussycat than a tiger. The final straw was passing a budget resolution with Democratic support last Saturday.
Polish election: October 15
Poland uses proportional representation in multi-member electorates to elect its 460 members of the Sejm (lower house), with a 5% national threshold for single parties and 8% for coalitions. The 100 senators are elected by FPTP.
Poland does not have a major centre-left party. The governing Law and Justice (PiS), which is seeking a third successive term, is socially conservative, authoritarian and anti-immigrant, but economically left. The main opposition Civic Platform (KO) is socially liberal, but economically right.
Polls suggest PiS is ahead, but not by enough to win an outright majority. There are two other parties who would probably ally with KO. It’s possible the far-right Confederation will be the kingmaker.
Pro-Russia party wins most seats in Slovakia
Slovakia uses national PR with a 5% threshold to elect its 150 MPs. At last Saturday’s election, the economically left but pro-Russia Smer won 42 seats, Progressive Slovakia 32 and Hlas 27 (Hlas was formed as a split from Smer). The remaining seats went to right-wing parties, with two right-wing parties narrowly missing the 5% threshold. Smer leader Robert Fico is a former PM who campaigned on ending military aid to Ukraine. Although Smer won the most seats, they will need a coalition to reach the 76 seats for a majority.