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.

Canadian election results live!

Live commentary on results from the Canadian election. 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.

Wednesday 10:16am Back to Brexit, and the government lost a crucial vote on Tuesday that means it is unable to guillotine the Brexit bill through the Commons by Thursday.  The second reading of the Brexit bill passed by 329 votes to 299, with 19 Labour and most independents voting with the Conservatives.  However, the guillotine motion failed by 322 to 308, along similar splits as Saturday’s Letwin amendment.   In both cases, opposition from the ten DUP MPs was critical in swinging these two votes against the government.

A long delay to Brexit is now very likely.  Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour will agree to an election once such a delay is in place.  Polls currently give the Conservatives a large lead.

Wednesday 9:56am The final seat result was as below.  The final popular votes were 34.4% Conservatives, 33.1% Liberals, 15.9% NDP, 7.7% Quebec Bloc and 6.5% Greens.  Turnout was 66.0% of eligible voters (down 2.8%).

6:23pm The Liberals lead in the last two undecided seats, and are likely to win 157 of the 338 seats, losing just one net seat in Ontario.  The Conservatives have 121, the Quebec Bloc 32, the NDP 24, the Greens three and one independent.

5:57pm So Canada is likely headed for a Liberal government supported by the more left-wing NDP.

5:55pm Antony Green has an overall summary of vote and seat changes since the 2015 election.  Currently Liberals and NDP have 180 seats combined, easily exceeding the requirement for a majority (170 seats) (post modified).

4:50pm Assuming current figures are near final, here’s how they compare with the CBC Poll Tracker (in brackets)

Libs 156 seats, 33.0% (137, 32.0%)

Con 122, 34.5% (124, 31.6%)

Quebec Bloc 32, 7.9% (39, 7.0%)

NDP 24, 15.9% (35, 18.4%)

Green 3, 6.4% (1, 7.5%)

So the Conservatives exceeded their polling in popular vote terms, beating the Liberals by 1.5% instead of losing by 0.4%.  But they lost the seat count by 34 instead of 13.  Far too many votes wasted in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while the Liberals won Ontario easily.  And probably some tactical voting.

3:28pm It greatly helps to be regionally concentrated if you’re a minor party in a single-member system.  The Quebec Bloc currently have 32 seats on 8.1%, the Greens just three seats on 6.3%.  The Bloc won 33.0% in Quebec, the only province they contested.

3:14pm Not much change in the results.  156 Liberal leads, 121 Conservative, 32 Quebec Bloc, 25 NDP, three Greens, one independent.  Conservatives lead Liberals by 1.3% on popular votes; could also be some tactical voting by left-wing supporters.  If these results hold, Liberals plus NDP will have a majority (170+ seats).  I hope the NDP will push the Liberals to electoral reform.

2:25pm I’m going for a walk on a (rare) sunny day in Melbourne.  See you in 30 minutes.

2:24pm The Conservatives currently have a 0.6% lead over the Liberals in popular votes despite trailing by 35 in seats leading.  It’s possible that there are big vote sinks for the Liberals in the cities still to be counted, or that the Conservative vote was too inefficiently distributed (see Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan).

2:14pm Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, voted for a right-wing government at the June 2018 provincial election, but the Liberals are currently leading in 77 of the 121 seats from that province.  Another example of state elections not correlating strongly with federal results.

2:00pm Maxime Bernier broke away from the Conservatives to form the far-right People’s Party during the last term.  CBC says he’s lost his seat.

1:53pm 152 Liberals, 118 Conservatives, 35 Quebec Bloc, 24 NDP, three Greens seat leads.  Called elected are 82 Liberals, 75 Conservatives, 18 Bloc, three NDP, one Green

1:31pm A big problem for the Conservatives is massive vote wastage in Alberta.  They currently have 72% of the vote there, but there are only 34 seats in that province.

1:22pm 140 Liberals, 107 Conservatives, 30 Bloc, 20 NDP, one Green seat leads.  22 losses for the Liberals, enough to cost them their majority.

1:11pm CBC News calls a Liberal government, probably a minority but we’ll see!

1:09pm 122 Liberals, 95 Conservatives, 21 Bloc, ten NDP, two Greens.  Liberals shown losing 16 seats, enough to cost them their majority (had 184 of 338 in 2015)

1:00pm 93 Liberals, 69 Conservatives, 18 Bloc, nine NDP, one Green

12:53pm 71 Liberals, 44 Conservatives, 12 Bloc, eight NDP, one Green leads

12:51pm 58 Liberals, 40 Conservatives, 12 Quebec Bloc, eight NDP, one Green seat leads.

12:46pm 48 Liberals, 29 Conservatives, eight Quebec Bloc, six NDP and one Green seat leads.

12:03pm Will have lunch now, so I’m back in time for the 12:30pm deluge!

12:02pm In Atlantic Canada, the CBC Poll Tracker had voting intentions of 37.1% Liberals, 26.8% Conservatives, 20.0% NDP and 12.1% Greens.  Results so far are 41.3% Liberals, 29.7% Conservatives, 16.7% NDP and 10.1% Greens.

11:57am One seat in Quebec closed at 10:30am, and that puts the Quebec Bloc on the board (very termporarily).  Seat leads are 26 Liberals, five Conservatives, one NDP and one Green.  Called seats are 17 Liberals, three Conservatives, one NDP

11:45am Greens are on the tally board, leading in one seat.  25 Liberals, six Conservatives, one NDP, one Green.  In 2015, all Atlantic Canada seats went Liberal.

11:35am 24 Liberals, seven Conservative, one NDP leads.  Ten Liberals, two Conservatives, one NDP called elected.

11:27am Antony Green tweets that these provinces are showing a 12% swing from Liberal to Conservative, but the Liberal vote was huge in 2015, and it may not carry to the rest of the country.

11:22am 24 Liberals, six Conservatives, one NDP seat lead, including eight Liberals called elected

11:09am 22 Liberals, six Conservatives, one NDP seat lead, including five Liberals called as elected.

11:03am Now 16 Liberals, nine Conservative and one NDP seat lead.  Polls in most of Canada do not close until 12:30pm, with British Columbia (42 of 338 seats) closing at 1pm.

10:50am Welcome to a live blog of the Canadian election results by Adrian Beaumont.  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has up-to-date figures.  Polls closed at 10:30am AEDT in four eastern provinces (32 of 338 seats), and the Liberals have leads in 12 seats, to two for the Conservatives, and one NDP.  These eastern provinces are pro-Liberal compared to Canada overall.

In the latest on Brexit, Commons Speaker John Bercow did not allow the government to bring back its meaningful vote motion after it had been amended on Saturday.  The government will now attempt to ram the Brexit legislation through the Commons by Thursday, but even if it succeeds, and the legislation is not unacceptably amended, the House of Lords is a big problem.

The Lords is far more pro-Remain than the Commons, and does not like to be rushed.  As the Letwin amendment states that approval of the deal is delayed until all legislation passes parliament, it is likely that the government will need to accept at least a short Brexit extension.