UK election called for July 4

Rishi Sunak calls an early election his party seemingly has no chance of winning.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a general election for July 4, which seems under the circumstances to amount to a decision to hand the keys to 10 Downing Street to Labour leader Keir Starmer six months earlier than necessary. BBC chief political correspondent Henry Zeffman duly reports “confusion in at least some parts of the Conservative Party about why Rishi Sunak decided to call the general election sooner than was widely expected”.

The extent of the government’s woes is illustrated by The Economist’s polling aggregate, which has Labour leading the Conservatives by 45% to 22%. A prediction model at UK Polling Report credits Labour with 372 out of the House of Commons’ 650 seats, enough for a handsome majority without approaching the scale of Tony Blair’s three victories. However, it also has the Scottish National Party almost matching its 2019 performance with 46 seats, when polling from Scotland would appear to point to extensive Labour gains at their expense.

UK local elections and Blackpool South by-election live

The Conservatives are set to suffer large losses at today’s UK local elections. Also: turmoil in Scotland and Trump narrowly leading Biden nationally.

Live Commentary

11am Monday With all 107 councils in, Labour won 1,158 councillors (up 186), the Lib Dems 522 (up 104), the Tories 515 (down 474), independents 228 (up 93) and the Greens 181 (up 74). Councils controlled are Labour 51 (up eight), Lib Dems 12 (up two), Tories six (down ten), independents one (up one) and no overall control 37 (down one). This is the first time the Tories have finished third since 1996.

7:28am Sunday Labour’s Sadiq Khan has easily been re-elected London mayor, defeating Tory Susan Hall by 43.8-32.7 with 5.8% Lib Dems and 5.8% Greens. There was a 3.8% swing to Khan and a 2.6% swing against the Tories. On the London Assembly, Labour won 11 of the 25 seats (steady since 2021), the Tories eight (down one), the Greens three (steady), the Lib Dems two (steady) and Reform one (up one).

In a further blow for Sunak, Labour has defeated incumbent Tory mayor Andy Street in West Midlands, winning by 37.8-37.5 with 11.7% for an independent, 5.8% for Reform and 5.2% for the Greens. Labour’s vote share was down 1.9% on 2021, but the Tories were down 11.2%. Overall, Labour has won 10 of the 11 mayors contested, with the one Tory win coming in Tees Valley.

7:41pm Here’s the BBC’s live blog for today’s mayoral counts.

2:19pm With William Bowe’s permission, I’ve pinned this post to the top of the blog since Friday afternoon. But at 6pm today, William will start live coverage of the Tasmanian upper house elections, and this post will drop back to fifth. If you want to follow the remaining mayoral results, you’ll need to scroll.

11:25am After 102 of 107 councils, Labour has 1,026 councillors (up 173), the Tories 479 (down 448), the Lib Dems 505 (up 101), independents 224 (up 92) and the Greens 159 (up 65). Councils controlled are Labour 48 (up eight), Tories five (down ten), Lib Dems 12 (up two), independents one (up one) and no overall control 36 (down one). The Tories have reduced their proportional losses to a bit under half. George Galloway’s Workers Party and Reform have both won councillors (four and two respectively).

11:16am Labour won the East Midlands mayoralty last night by 40.3-28.8 over the Tories with 11.3% Greens and 10.9% Reform. That leaves seven of 11 mayors yet to declare, including the London mayoralty.

7:18am Saturday The BBC’s Projected National Share, that applies these council results to the whole country, is 34% Labour, 25% Tories, 17% Lib Dems and 24% for all Others. Compared with 2021, when these seats were last contested, Labour is up five, the Tories down 11 and the Lib Dems steady. Compared with 2023, Labour and the Tories are both down one and the Lib Dems down three. This is the Tories’ equal record low in PNS, and they were last at 25% in 2013 and 1995. The Greens account for “as much as half” of the Others’ total. This result will be a little disappointing for Labour, which would have expected a double-digit PNS margin.

11:49pm Labour wins the York and North Yorkshire mayoralty, which includes Sunak’s seat. Labour won by 35.1-27.3 over the Tories with 16.2% Lib Dems and 8.0% Greens.

11:35pm Labour wins the North East mayoralty, defeating a defector by 41.3-28.2 with 11.7% for the Tories and 9.2% for Reform. In the council results, the Tories are continuing to lose over half their existing seats.

9:40pm The Tories have held the Tees Valley mayoralty, winning by 53.6-41.3 over Labour with 5.0% Lib Dem. But after 42 of 107 councils, the Tories are continuing to lose over half the seats they are defending. Labour has 362 councillors (up 62), the Tories 131 (down 149), the Lib Dems 133 (up 24), independents 78 (up 49) and the Greens 28 (up 15). Councils controlled are Labour 22 (up four), Tories three (down three), Lib Dems five (steady) and no overall control 12 (down one).

4:43pm Curtice says the swings so far at the local elections are 10% from Tories to Labour since 2021 and 1% since 2023. If this holds up, Labour will win the BBC’s Projected National Share by a low double-digit margin. The Tories have so far lost over half the councillors they were defending. If this holds up, it will be their worst proportional loss since 1995.

2:58pm It’s now nearly 6am Friday in the UK. This guide to results in The Guardian indicates things will go quiet until later tonight AEST, then there’ll be more declarations. The London mayoralty will be declared Saturday UK time (probably after midnight Sunday AEST).

2:43pm After 33 of 107 councils, Labour has 298 councillors (up 58), the Tories 110 (down 118), the Lib Dems 100 (up 15), independents 61 (up 33) and the Greens 20 (up 12). Councils controlled are Labour 17 (up four), the Tories three (down three), the Lib Dems four (steady) and no overall control nine (down one).

2:36pm The Tories have lost six other seats at by-elections since July 2023, all on huge swings to Labour or the Lib Dems. They did manage to hold former PM Boris Johnson’s seat of Uxbridge in July 2023.

1:52pm Labour GAINS Blackpool South (the parliamentary by-election), crushing the Tories by over 40 points. The Tories barely stayed ahead of Reform for 2nd place.

12:59pm After 22 of 107 councils, Labour has 195 coucillors (up 44), the Tories 50 (down 81), the Lib Dems 55 (up six), independents 38 (up 22) and the Greens 13 (up nine). Councils controlled are Labour 13 (up three), the Tories one (down two), the Lib Dems two (steady) and no overall control six (down one).

12:48pm Blackpool South turnout 32.5%, compared with 56.8% at 2019 general election. Labour easily winning according to BBC with Tories and Reform in battle for 2nd. Also Curtice says Greens averaging 11% in wards they’ve contested and Reform 14%. In wards contested by Reform, Tories down 19% on 2021.

12:15pm Labour has GAINED Rushmoor council from the Tories. This is a historic gain as Rushmoor has never had a Labour majority, and the Tories had controlled it for the last 24 years.

11:56am After 17 of 107 councils, Labour have 116 councillors (up 24), the Tories 29 (down 53), the Lib Dems 36 (up six), independents 26 (up 17) and the Greens nine (up six). Councils controlled are Labour ten (up two), Tories one (down one), Lib Dems one (steady) and no overall control five (down one).

11:46am BBC’s live blog quotes UK election analyst John Curtice saying it’s a strong performance in early wards from far-right Reform and the Greens. There’s an 8% swing from Con to Lab since 2021, and a more modest 1% swing since 2023. Also, Labour have GAINED Thurrock council from the Tories.

11:18am The BBC’s live blog says Labour has GAINED Hartlepool council (previously no overall control). The Blackpool South by-election is expected to be declared after 12pm AEST.

11:12am Friday On the BBC’s council scoreboard, after 7 of 107 councils declared, Labour has 56 councillors (up four from the last time these wards were contested in 2021), the Tories 20 (down 18), the Lib Dems 17 (up one), independents 14 (up nine) and the Greens seven (up four).

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 for UK local government elections and the parliamentary Blackpool South by-election at 7am AEST Friday. Owing to COVID, there were no elections in 2020, so the large majority of the seats up were last contested in 2021. At the 2021 local elections, the Conservatives under Boris Johnson had a big win. With national polls now showing a huge Labour lead of around 20 points, the Conservatives are virtually certain to suffer large losses.

Local elections are contested on a four-year cycle, with different wards up every year. Some years are more Conservative-leaning and others Labour-leaning. The BBC’s Projected National Share (PNS) attempts to correct for bias in the particular year. In 2021, the Conservatives won the PNS by 36-29 over Labour with 17% for the Liberal Democrats. In 2023, Labour won by 35-26 with 20% Lib Dems.

The biggest prize at these elections is the London mayoralty. Previously, mayors were elected by preferential voting, but the Conservative government regressed to first-past-the-post. Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan, who is running for a third term, has a double-digit lead over Conservative Susan Hall. These local elections will be the last before the general election, which must be held by January 2025.

There will also be a parliamentary by-election today in Conservative-held Blackpool South.  The Conservatives gained Blackpool South from Labour at the 2019 election, winning by a 49.6-38.3 margin with 6.1% for the Brexit Party.

Results for some councils and the Blackpool South by-election will come in Friday AEST, but we may need to wait until Sunday morning for the results to be complete. I expect the London mayoralty won’t be declared until Saturday AEST. I will be at gym until 11am on Friday morning. Results will be available at the BBC.

There may be an early election in Scotland after the coalition government between the Scottish National Party and Greens broke apart. At the 2021 election, the SNP won 64 of the 129 seats, one short of a majority, but one of their members has since defected to the Alba party. On Monday, Humza Yousaf quit as Scotland first minister, and there will be a leadership contest within the SNP to replace him.

US: Trump narrowly ahead nationally

The US election is on November 5. FiveThirtyEight now has polling averages. Nationally, Donald Trump leads Joe Biden by 41.6-40.8 with 10.3% for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. There were six narrow Biden-won states in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Trump currently leads in all six of these states by one-to-six-point margins. Biden’s best chance to win the Electoral College is to win Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states where he trails by 2.6 points or less. If Biden wins these three states, he likely wins the Electoral College by 270-268.

Recent elections

The South Korean legislative election was held on April 10. Of the 300 seats, 254 were elected by FPTP and 46 by proportional representation. The centre-left Democratic Alliance won 176 of the 300 total seats (down four since 2020), the conservative People Power 108 (up two), and the left-wing Rebuilding Korea, which only contested the PR seats, won 12 seats (new). The Democratic Alliance won the FPTP seats by 162-90 on a popular vote margin of 52.3-45.7.

The most powerful office in South Korea is the president. At the 2022 presidential election, People Power candidate Yoon Suk Yeol defeated the Democrat by 48.6-47.8. While the legislative election will be seen as a repudiation of Yoon, his term does not end until 2027.

At the April 6 Slovak presidential runoff election, Peter Pellegrini, an ally of the more pro-Russia PM, won by a 53.1-46.9 margin over Ivan Korčok. Korčok had finished first at the March 23 first round, leading by 42.5-37.0.

Croatia uses PR in multi-member electorates to elect 143 of its 151 MPs, with the remaining eight reserved for minorities. At the April 17 election, the conservative HDZ won 61 seats (down six since 2020), the centre-left Rivers of Justice 42 (up two), two other right-wing alliances a combined 25 seats (up one) and the green-left 10 (up five).

UK local elections minus three weeks

The Conservatives are set to suffer large losses at UK local elections. Also covered: other recent and upcoming elections.

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.

UK local government elections will be held on May 2. Owing to COVID, there were no elections in 2020, so the large majority of the seats up were last contested in 2021. At the 2021 local elections, the Conservatives under Boris Johnson had a big win. With national polls now showing a huge Labour lead, the Conservatives are virtually certain to suffer large losses.

Local elections are contested on a four-year cycle, with different wards up every year. Some years are more Conservative-leaning and others Labour-leaning. The BBC’s Projected National Share (PNS) attempts to correct for bias in the particular year. In 2021, the Conservatives won the PNS by 36-29 over Labour with 17% for the Liberal Democrats. In 2023, Labour won by 35-26 with 20% Lib Dems.

The biggest prize at these elections is the London mayoralty. Previously, mayors were elected by preferential voting, but the Conservative government regressed to first-past-the-post. Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan, who is running for a third term, has a large lead over Conservative Susan Hall. These local elections will be the last before the general election, which is likely to be held in late 2024, though it could be delayed until January 2025.

There will also be a parliamentary by-election on May 2 in Conservative-held Blackpool South. Former Conservative MP Scott Benton resigned on March 25, while a six-week petition to recall him after he was suspended from parliament for 35 days was ongoing. The recall petition was to close on April 22, with at least 10% of registered voters needed. The Conservatives gained Blackpool South from Labour at the 2019 election, winning by a 49.6-38.3 margin with 6.1% for the Brexit Party.

Other upcoming elections

The US general election will be held on November 5. I covered the upcoming US and UK elections for The Conversation on March 19. Since this article, Joe Biden’s net approval in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate has improved from -16.8 to -15.4, while Donald Trump’s net favourability has slipped from -9.7 to -10.2. National general election polls are close to even between Trump and Biden, an improvement for Biden. However, Trump is probably advantaged by the Electoral College system.

The Indian election takes place in seven stages, from April 19 to June 1. No interim results will be released, with vote counting set for June 4. The 543 MPs are elected by FPTP. The right-wing alliance of PM Narendra Modi, who is running for a third successive term, has a high-single to double-digit lead in polls.

The European parliament election will be held from June 6-9, with vote counting starting once all countries have finished voting. The 720 seats are elected using proportional representation in each EU country. Far-right parties are expected to make gains.

Recent elections

The 230 Portuguese MPs are elected by PR in multi-member electorates. At the March 10 election, which was held early owing to scandals in the governing Socialists, the conservative AD won 80 seats (up three since the last election in 2022), the centre-left Socialists 78 seats (down 42) and the far-right Chega 50 seats (up 38). The AD has formed a minority government.

The final results for the February 14 Indonesian election have been released. In the presidential election, Prabowa Subianto, who represented an alliance of right-wing and Islamist parties, won 58.6% of the vote, far ahead of his nearest opponent who had 25.0%. By winning a majority, Prabowa avoided a runoff.

In legislative elections, the 580 seats were elected by PR in multi-member electorates with a 4% national threshold. While the centre-left Democratic Party of Struggle won the most seats, it lost 18 seats to fall to 110, while right-wing and Islamist parties all made gains. There’s a clear majority for right-wing and Islamist parties.

Two Irish referendums were held on March 8, and both were heavily defeated. The first referendum proposed to expand the definition of family to include durable relationships outside marriage, and it lost by 67.7-32.3. The second referendum proposed to replace references to women’s “life within the home” with gender-neutral language on supporting care within the family; this lost by 73.9-26.1.  Perhaps as a result of these defeats, Leo Varadkar announced on March 20 that he would resign as Taoiseach (PM).

UK Rochdale by-election live

Labour’s candidate malfunction makes this by-election interesting, with George Galloway a possible winner.

Live Commentary

1:53pm Finally a result, with Galloway winning easily and Tully second. The Tories were down 22 points to 12% and Labour crashed 48 points to just 8%! The Labour candidate was disendorsed.

1:17pm Re last update, it’s been a very slow 20 minutes!

12:47pm The BBC reported at 12:40pm that the result will be earlier than expected, in another 10 to 20 minutes.

11:53am Galloway’s campaign are confident they’ve won, and an independent (David Tully) is doing very well, and could come second.

11:37am The BBC reported at 10:37am AEDT that Galloway’s people think he’s won.

11:32am BBC’s live blog says the Rochdale result is expected about 2pm AEDT. Counting in the UK doesn’t happen by booth as in Australia. Instead all votes cast in a seat are taken to one place for the count.

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 9am AEDT today for a by-election in the UK Labour-held seat of Rochdale that was caused by the death of the previous MP, Tony Lloyd. Labour defeated the Conservatives by 51.6-31.2 in Rochdale in 2019, with 8.2% Brexit Party and 7.0% Lib Dem. With Labour far ahead in national polls, a by-election in a safe Labour-held seat would normally be uninteresting.

But Labour’s candidate, Ashar Ali, was disendorsed by Labour on February 12, owing to revelations of comments he made implying that Israel knew of the October 7 Hamas attacks, but deliberately did nothing to stop them. But as nominations had already closed, Ali is still listed as the Labour candidate on the ballot paper. If he wins, he will sit as an independent.

Muslims make up 30% of Rochdale’s population and George Galloway, who has attacked Labour from the left for a long time, is running as the Workers Party candidate, on a campaign focused on support for Palestine. Galloway is probably the biggest threat to Ali.

Labour has been criticized from the left for its position on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and there was uproar in parliament last week when the Speaker allowed a Labour amendment instead of one proposed by the Scottish National Party. If the SNP amendment had been voted on, many Labour MPs would have rebelled against their party’s opposition.

The Labour MP for Rochdale before Lloyd was Simon Danczuk, but he was expelled from the party in 2015 after revelations of explicit messages with a 17-year-old girl. Danczuk ran as an independent in 2017 but finished fifth with just 1.8%. At this by-election, he is running as the far-right Reform’s candidate.

Former Conservative MP Scott Benton was suspended from parliament for 35 days on Tuesday. As the suspension is greater than ten days, it triggers a recall petition in Benton’s seat of Blackpool South. The petition will be open for six weeks, and if at least 10% of voters in Blackpool South sign, there will be a by-election. The Conservatives gained Blackpool South from Labour at the 2019 election, winning by a 49.6-38.3 margin with 6.1% for the Brexit Party.

Trump and Biden dominate in Michigan

At Tuesday’s US Republican Michigan primary, Donald Trump defeated Nikki Haley by 68.1-26.6. Only 16 of Michigan’s 55 delegates were allocated, with a further 39 to be assigned in Saturday’s state convention. Idaho, Washington DC and North Dakota also hold Republican contests before Super Tuesday next week (Wednesday AEDT). Trump leads Haley by 122 delegates to 24, with 1,215 needed to win the nomination.

Joe Biden won the Democratic Michigan primary with 81.1%. Owing to opposition to Biden’s position on the Israel-Palestine conflict, some on the left had urged voters to vote “uncommitted”, but uncommitted only won 13.2%.

UK by-elections live: Wellingborough and Kingswood

Will the UK Conservatives lose another two seats held by large margins at by-elections today? Also: a wrap of recent international elections.

Live Commentary

10:08am Saturday Wikipedia says the Weliingborough result was the largest Tory to Labour swing at a by-election since 1994 and the second largest since WW2. It was also the largest drop for the Tories at a by-election and the largest for any party since 1948. It was the worst Tory vote share in Wellingborough’s history, falling below the 25.4% they received in 1923.

3:28pm So another great UK by-election night for Labour and a dismal one for the Tories. I will cover the Feb 29 Rochdale by-election, which is interesting after the disendorsement of the Labour candidate. Before that, I will cover the Feb 24 South Carolina Republican primary, where Donald Trump looks set to effectively seal the Rep presidential nomination. Both these events occur the next day AEDT.

3:12pm Labour GAINS Wellingborough from the Tories by over 21 points. This seat went to the Tories by almost 37 points at the 2019 election. Another high vote for Reform, this time 13%.

2:46pm There’s a limited recount taking place in Wellingborough, just of two trays of votes, both on the same table.

1:53pm This was Reform’s best by-election result this term, easily beating 5% at Tamworth in October. The BBC reported at 1:40pm that the Wellingborough result should be soon.

12:56pm Labour GAINS Kingswood from the Tories, winning by 10% in a seat they lost by nearly 23% in 2019. Far-right Reform won 10.4% (new here).

12:26pm Unconfirmed reports from journalists that Labour has won Wellingborough. This is the more difficult one for Labour to win.

12:13pm Wellingborough turnout 38%, down from 64% at general election.

11:46am BBC live blog says turnout in Kingswood was 37%, down from 70% at the 2019 general election. Turnout is usually well down for a by-election.

11:39am Guardian says Wellingborough result expected about 3pm AEDT today, while Kingswood will be between 1pm and 4pm AEDT.

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 9am AEDT today for by-elections in the UK Conservative-held seats of Wellingborough and Kingswood. Wellingborough Conservative MP Peter Bone was suspended from parliament for six weeks in October over a male employee’s allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct.

An MP can be recalled if suspended for more than ten days, with a recall triggered if at least 10% of registered voters in the seat sign a petition, with the petition open for six weeks. Bone was recalled when 13% of voters in Wellingborough signed the petition. Recalled MPs can contest the by-election, but the Conservatives chose a new candidate. In 2019 Bone won Wellingborough by 62.2-26.5 over Labour with 7.9% for the Liberal Democrats.

Kingswood Conservative MP Chris Skidmore resigned from parliament in early January in protest over the UK government issuing more oil and gas licenses. In 2019 Skidmore won Kingswood by 56.2-33.4 over Labour with 6.9% Lib Dem.

While both seats should be safe for the Conservatives, they’ve lost safer seats at by-elections this term. Labour won the October 19 Tamworth by-election by 45.8-40.7 over the Conservatives. At the 2019 general election, the Conservatives had won Tamworth by 66.3-23.7 over Labour.

In UK national polls, Labour continues to be far ahead of the Conservatives. However, two polls taken in the last week gave Labour 11-12 point leads, down from the normal Labour lead range of 15-25 points. The next UK general election is likely to be held by late 2024, though it could be held as late as January 2025. It’s been a long time since the last UK general election in December 2019, when Boris Johnson led the Conservatives to a thumping victory.

There will be a by-election in Labour-held Rochdale on February 29 owing to the death of the previous MP. In an embarrassment for Labour, they were forced on Monday to disendorse their candidate after nominations had closed owing to comments he made implying that Israel knew of the October 7 Hamas attacks, but did nothing to stop them. Labour defeated the Conservatives by 51.6-31.2 in Rochdale in 2019, with 8.2% Brexit Party and 7.0% Lib Dem.

Pakistan, Finland, German and Tuvalu elections

Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan’s party was banned from running at the February 8 election, but independents linked to him won the most seats, but were far short of a majority. Of the 336 seats, 266 were elected by first-past-the-post, with a further 60 for women and ten for non-Muslims elected by proportional representation based on the number of FPTP seats won. On Tuesday, a coalition government was formed by various parties to shut out Khan.

At Sunday’s Finnish presidential runoff election, conservative Alexander Stubb defeated Green Pekka Haavisto by a 51.6-48.4 margin. Both candidates had qualified for the runoff by finishing top two in the January 28 first round.

A repeat of the 2021 German federal election was held Sunday in 455 of Berlin’s 2,256 polling booths owing to irregularities in the original election. The only change in seats was a one-seat loss for the pro-business FDP, with that seat also removed from the total number of MPs. The governing coalition of centre-left SPD, Greens and FDP retains a majority, but polls are bleak for them ahead of the late 2025 election.

Tuvalu’s previous government had been pro-Taiwan, but at the January 26 election the incumbent PM lost his seat. Tuvalu’s population is estimated to be just 11,900, but the China-Taiwan issue was significant internationally. There are no political parties, with all 16 parliamentarians elected as independents in eight two-member electorates representing the islands by FPTP.

Taiwan presidential election live

Live commentary on today’s Taiwan presidential election. Also covered: US primary polls and upcoming US and UK by-elections.

Live Commentary

9:25am Sunday Final results: Lai defeated Hou by 40.1-33.5, a 6.6% margin, with 26.5% for Ko. However, the DPP lost its majority in the 113-member legislature, with the KMT winning 52 seats (up 14 since 2020), the DPP 51 (down ten), the TPP eight (up three) and others two (down seven). The DPP will need support from either the KMT or TPP to reach the 57 votes needed for a majority.

11:07pm With 95% reporting, Lai leads Hou by 40.3-33.4 with 26.3% for Ko. Although his lead has slipped with counting of final votes, Lai has still clearly won. A reminder that this election is by First Past the Post, so there’s no runoff.

10:24pm With 76% reporting, Lai leads Hou by 41.1-33.2 with 25.7% for Ko.

9:11pm With 16% reporting, Lai leads Hou by 43.1-33.6 with 23.4% for Ko. Looking very likely Lai will win a record third consecutive term for the DPP.

8:33pm With 3% reporting, Lai leads Hou by 43.2-35.6 with 21.2% for Ko.

7:30pm Bloomberg says the first results from Taiwan should be out after 8pm AEDT.

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 7pm AEDT today for Taiwan’s presidential election, in which first past the post is used. There are three candidates: William Lai of the centre-left and pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Hou You-ih of the more pro-China and conservative Kuomintang (KMT) and Ko Wen-je of the populist Taiwan People’s Party (TPP).

The DPP holds the presidency, with incumbent Tsai Ing-wen elected for two terms since 2016, but she can’t run again owing to term limits. There had been speculation that the KMT and TPP would form a joint ticket before nominations closed on November 24, but this fell apart.

Publication of polls has not been permitted since January 3. The final polls released before this date showed Lai leading Hou by two to five points, with one poll giving Lai an 11-point lead. Ko’s support was in the low 20’s. If Lai wins, it would be the first time the same party has won the presidency for three consecutive terms. This election is likely to be the first since 2000 when the winner did not receive a vote majority.

Trump set for big win in Iowa caucus

The first US presidential nominating contest will be Monday’s Iowa Republican caucus (Tuesday AEDT). The FiveThirtyEight aggregate of Iowa polls shows Donald Trump way ahead with 51.3%, followed by Nikki Haley at 17.3% and Ron DeSantis at 16.1%. I will have a separate post on Iowa on Tuesday.

The New Hampshire primary follows Iowa on January 23. Trump is leading in NH with 41.4%, followed by Haley at 30.0% and DeSantis at 6.1%. There has been a surge for Haley since December. She should be helped by the withdrawal of anti-Trump candidate Chris Christie on Wednesday; Christie had 11.6% in NH polls.

In national Republican polls, Trump is far ahead with 60.4%, followed by DeSantis at 12.1% and Haley at 11.7%. On Super Tuesday March 5, many states will vote, and Trump and Joe Biden will probably be close to clinching their parties’ nominations after this date. No high-profile Democrat has challenged Biden for the Democratic nomination.

I covered the US presidential election for The Conversation on December 13. I said that while Trump was leading Biden, there were two main chances of a Biden recovery: an improvement in economic sentiment and a Trump conviction. But Biden will be almost 82 by the November election, while Trump will be 78.

Upcoming US and UK by-elections

Republican George Santos was expelled from the federal House on December 1 by a 311-114 vote (a two-thirds majority was required). Santos was facing 23 indictments when expelled. A by-election will be held on February 13 in Santos’ former seat (New York’s third). In 2022, Santos gained this seat from the Democrats by a 53.8-46.2 margin. According to Daily Kos elections, Biden won this seat in 2020 by an 8.2% margin. A late November poll gave the Democrat a three-point lead.

In most midterm elections, the non-presidential party has won easily. Democrats did well in 2022 to keep Republicans to a 222-213 federal House majority, a Republican gain of nine seats on 2020. But Democrats lost four seats in New York.

Republicans currently hold a 220-213 House majority after former Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy resigned on December 31. McCarthy’s seat is safe Republican, so this by-election is unlikely to be competitive. A Democratic win in New York’s third would reduce the Republican majority to 220-214 until McCarthy’s seat is filled.

By-elections will occur on February 15 in the UK Conservative-held seat of Wellingborough and Kingswood. In Wellingborough MP Peter Bone was recalled following a six-week parliamentary suspension, while in Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore resigned in protest over more oil and gas licenses. In 2019 Bone won Wellingborough by 62.2-26.5 over Labour with 7.9% for the Liberal Democrats, while Skidmore won Kingswood by 56.2-33.4 over Labour with 6.9% Lib Dem. The Conservatives have lost safer seats at by-elections this term.

Two UK by-elections and Argentine election live

Two UK by-elections today in Conservative-held seats. Also covered: Argentina likely to elect a far-right candidate president.

Live Commentary

4:55pm I’ve found the official results here. It’s currently 36.7% Massa, 30.0% Milei and 23.8% for the conservative Bullrich. A centrist alliance has 6.8% and a far-left alliance 2.7%. So Milei and Bullrich combined have 53.8%. That’s with 98.5% of precincts reporting. You can also see the parliamentary results at that link. The presidential runoff between Massa and Milei will be on November 19.

1:12pm With 95% counted, Massa leads Milei by 36.4-30.1. Despite Massa’s stronger than expected performance, I still think Milei is the favourite in the runoff given the 23.6% for the conservative candidate, whose votes are likely to go to him.

11:57am I’m not sure where the official results are, but Wikipedia now shows 85.7% counted and Massa leading Milei by 36.2% to 30.3%.

11:25am First official results, with 76% counted, centre-left Massa (36%) leads far-right Milei (31%) and conservative Bullrich (24%). Massa and Milei likely to go to a runoff, although if remaining votes pushed Massa over 40% he would win outright by exceeding 40% and getting at least 10% more than the runner-up.

9:49am According to Bloomberg, partial results that have been leaked show the centre-left incumbent Economic Minister Sergio Massa doing “better than expected”, perhaps leading the presidential vote count.

8:57am Monday: According to this Bloomberg live blog, no official Argentine results are likely until 10:30pm local time (12:30pm AEDT).

1:24pm I’ll put this live commentary to sleep until Monday morning, when the Argentine results come in.

1:22pm Labour won Mid Beds by 3% despite a 23% vote for the Lib Dems.

1:18pm Labour GAIN Mid Bedfordshire from the Tories. Details to come.

1:15pm In Tamworth the three candidates behind Labour and the Tories were all far-right, and got a combined 9.4% of the vote.

12:50pm 20%+ gain for Labour in Tamworth and drop for the Tories, with far-right Reform getting 5.4%.

12:47pm Friday: Labour GAINS Tamworth from the Tories. Vote details to follow.

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 two UK by-election in the Conservative-held seats of Mid Bedfordshire (MBeds) and Tamworth. 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% Liberal Democrats. They won Tamworth by 66.3-23.7 over Labour with 5.3% Lib Dems. A mid-September poll had MBeds tied at 29% each between the Conservatives and Labour, but a high Lib Dem vote of 22% could allow the Conservatives to win.

Most UK national polls give Labour a 14-20 point lead over the Conservatives. There has been a recent slight narrowing in Labour’s lead. At the 2019 election, the Conservatives defeated Labour by 11.5% nationally.

Far-right candidate likely to win Argentine presidential election

Legislative and presidential elections will be held in Argentina on Sunday, with a November 19 presidential runoff if no candidate wins at least 45%, or at least 40% and is at least 10% ahead of their nearest opponent. Primary elections to choose the parties’ candidates occurred on August 13. As voting is compulsory, the overall vote shares for the parties are seen as good guides to the outcome of the October vote.

Far-right candidate Javier Milei’s party topped the primary poll with 30.0%, followed by the conservative Together for Change (TfC) with 28.3% and the centre-left incumbent Union for the Homeland (UftH) with 27.3%. Milei is an admirer of Donald Trump and has called climate change a “socialist lie”.

Argentina has been suffering from over 100% inflation. Polls suggest that TfC is now running third behind UftH and Milei. While Milei is unlikely to win on Sunday, he should get TfC support in the runoff, and win the runoff. If UftH is eliminated on Sunday, the runoff will be between two right-wing candidates.

In legislative elections, 130 of the 257 members of the Chamber of Deputies are up for election using proportional representation in 24 multi-member electorates based on the provinces with a 3% threshold. In the Senate, 24 of the 72 are up for election, with eight provinces holding Senate elections. The party winning the most votes in a province wins two senators and the second party one.

Argentine polls close at 8am Monday AEDT. I believe this Reuters article implies that local media need to wait until 11am AEDT before projecting winners.

Polish election final results, Ecuador and US House Speaker

I covered Sunday’s Polish election on Monday. Final seat results gave the coalition led by Law and Justice (PiS) 194 of the 460 seats in the Sejm (lower house) (down 41 since 2019), the liberal conservative Civic Coalition 157 seats (up 23), the centrist Third Way coalition 65 (up 35), the Left 26 (down 23) and the far-right Confederation 18 (up seven). An alliance between Civic Coalition, Third Way and Left would have 248 seats, above the 231 required for a majority.

The 100 senators are elected by first past the post, but parties opposed to PiS agreed to run only one candidate per marginal seat. This “Senate Pact” gave the opposition 65 seats to 34 for the PiS coalition, out from 51-48 to the opposition in 2019.

At last Sunday’s Ecuadorian presidential runoff, Daniel Noboa, the son of a banana tycoon, defeated the left-wing Luisa González by a 51.8-48.2 margin. As these elections were called early by the previous conservative president who faced impeachment, Noboa will serve only until early 2025 when a regular election is due. At a referendum held with the August 20 general election, voters approved a ban on oil drilling in a national park by 59-41.

It’s two weeks since Republican Kevin McCarthy was ousted as US House Speaker. Republicans nominated right-winger Jim Jordan for Speaker, but in two rounds of voting on Wednesday and Thursday AEDT, he won 199-200 votes while Democrat Hakeem Jeffries had 212 votes. With both short of the 217 needed to win, voting will continue.

UK Rutherglen by-election live

A by-election today in an SNP-held seat, and two on October 19 in Conservative-held seats. Also covered: New Zealand polls ahead of the October 14 election and McCarthy ousted as US House Speaker.

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.