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.

Anarchy in the UK

Britain’s Conservative government gears up to pick its fifth prime minister since coming to power in 2010 — or possibly its third again.

Six weeks into the job, Liz Truss announced yesterday that she would resign as Britain’s Prime Minister. Whereas the process that resulted in Truss succeeding Boris Johnson ran from July to September, through the party’s usual process where the members of parliament winnow it down to a field of two who then face a ballot of the party membership, this time the matter will be determined within a week. The principles of the election will be broadly similar to before, but the narrowing down process will apparently be “accelerated” and the membership vote conducted online. Betfair’s highly fluid betting odds suggest the following clear front-runners (odds shown below at time of writing), followed by a long tail of dark horses:

Rishi Sunak ($1.94). Former Chancellor of the Exchequer and the current back-bencher, Sunak was the favoured candidate of the parliamentary contingent to succeed Johnson, Sunak was voted down in favour of Truss by a party membership that was displeased by his role in bringing down Johnson and unconvinced by his argument that the unfunded tax cuts advocated by Truss would not go down well with markets. Only later did it become apparent that, as our very own Peta Credlin put it in The Australian yesterday, the markets were “driven by woke hedge-fund managers who have never forgiven the Tories for engineering Brexit”.

Penny Morduant ($5). Morduant was an early front-runner during the previous leadership process, but finished third in a tight race in the final ballot of the parliamentary membership. She served as Defence Secretary under Teresa May but was dumped when Johnson became Prime Minister in July 2019, before returning to junior ministry positions the following February. Mordaunt won favour among the party membership as a long-standing Euroskeptic, but lost some of it for her progressive positions on transgender issues.

Boris Johnson ($5.90). The Times political editor Steven Swinford reports Johnson is “expected to stand”.

Brazilian first round presidential election live

Live coverage from Monday morning of today’s Brazilian election, which Lula could win outright. Also: UK Labour seizes a huge lead after the budget, US and Israeli polls.

Live Commentary

9:59am Tuesday The final presidential result is Lula over Bolsonaro by 48.4-43.2. I think Lula would have won by about 53-47 if Brazil used preferential voting, so he’s still the clear favourite to win the October 30 runoff.

In the legislature, Bolsonaro’s Liberal party won 99 of the 513 Chamber of Deputies seats (up 66), while Lula’s alliance won 80 seats (up 11). There are many parties represented, but it looks as if right-wing parties have a majority. The Liberals won eight of the 27 Senate seats up for election, and two other right-wing parties won eight seats (there are a total of 81 senators). So both chambers will have right-wing majorities.

12:52pm With 99.5% counted, Lula’s lead hits five points, 48.3-43.3.

12:01pm With 98.5% counted, Lula leads by 48.1-43.5, a 4.6% margin. He will be a heavy favourite to win the October 30 runoff, but Bolsonaro has performed much better than polls expected.

10:48am With 92.6% counted, Lula leads Bolsonaro by 47.4-44.1, a 3.3% margin. The five pre-election polls gave Lula an eight to 16 point first round margin over Bolsonaro. They don’t look good.

10:34am There are big swings against Bolsonaro in the big urban states, like the federal district, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. But his vote is holding up much better in rural states like Amazonas, Para and Tocantis. Bolsonaro won the 2018 runoff by a 55.1-44.9 margin.

10:25am With 82.6% counted, Lula leads by 46.5-44.8, a 1.7% margin.

10:05am With 70% counted, Lula takes the lead by 45.7-45.5.

10am Bolsonaro’s lead drops to 46.0-45.2 with 60.3% reporting. But it looks likely that polls have understated Bolsonaro. He’s likely to lose this round when all votes are counted, but the margin could be close, and the runoff will be a contest. Shades of Trump in the US 2020 election?

9:34am Bolsonaro’s lead keeps shrinking as more votes are counted. He’s down to a 2.2% margin (46.7-44.5) with 46% counted.

9:21am With 35.5% counted, Bolsonaro’s lead drops to 3.5% nationally. 89% has been counted in Espirito Santo, and Bolsonaro leads there by 52-40. In 2018, he won this state by 63.1-36.9

9:11am With 31% counted, Bolsonaro still leads by 47.6-43.6 nationally. But he appears to be underperforming badly in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, both of which he won by 68.0-32.0 in 2018.

9:01am While there’s a big swing against Bolsonaro in the federal district, there doesn’t seem to be in Tocantins. With 65% counted here, Lula is winning by 48.9-45.3. Bolsonaro lost this state in the 2018 runoff 51.0-49.0.

8:51am With 16.2% reporting, Bolsonaro leads Lula by 47.9-43.4 nationally. In the federal district, with over 82% in, his lead is 52-37, down from 70-30 in 2018.

8:21am With 4.9% of the overall vote counted, Bolsonaro leads by 48.8-42.1. He’s still winning the federal district 52-36 with 52% in.

8:08am Over 42% has been counted in the federal district, with Bolsonaro winning by 52-36. But in the 2018 runoff, he won the federal district by 70-30.

7:51am With 1.5% counted, Bolsonaro leads by 48.5-41.6 for Lula. I believe the current results are unrepresentative, and that Lula will improve when more results from the northeastern states report.

7:17am Monday The Guardian has results of the presidential election. So far just 0.14% has been counted

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 first round of the Brazilian presidential election occurs today. If nobody wins at least 50%, a runoff between the top two first round candidates will be held October 30. The major contenders are the far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula), who was president from 2003 to 2010.

Brazil has four time zones, but voting hours are synchronised, so that polls in trailing time zones open and close an hour earlier local time than polls in leading time zones. All polls close at 7am Monday AEDT (note: not AEST). As votes are recorded electronically, counting should be fast. There is no pre-poll or postal voting; all votes must be cast on election day.

The final five Brazilian polls, mostly taken since Thursday’s debate, have had Lula leading Bolsonaro by eight to 16 points in the first round. If the contest goes to the October 30 runoff, the polls give Lula a nine to 17 point lead. Voting is compulsory for those aged between 18 and 70.

Brazilian polls include undecided. Lula is currently in the high 40s in the first round in most polls, but undecided is at 1-9%. If undecided were excluded, as most polls in Australia do, three of the last five polls would give Lula just over the 50% needed to win outright in the first round and avoid a runoff.

As well as the presidential election, there are legislative elections today. All 513 members of the Chamber of Deputies will be elected by proportional representation, and 27 of the 81 senators (one per state) will be elected by first past the post. Many parties are currently represented.

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.

UK Labour seizes huge lead after ‘horror’ budget

On September 23, new UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng delivered a budget that would greatly reduce taxes to the benefit of the already well-off. Rather than cut spending, the tax cuts would be funded by borrowing. Owing to this borrowing, the UK pound plummeted on the financial markets.

Financial market turmoil continued last week. There have been nine UK national polls taken since Tuesday, and six give Labour leads of 17 to 21 points over the Conservatives, while three give Labour a lead of over 30 points. Prior to the budget, Labour’s lead was high single to low double digits. But the next UK general election is not due until late 2024.

US Democrats’ gains stall, Netanyahu could win again in Israel

The US midterm elections will be held November 8. I wrote for The Conversation Friday that Democratic chances in both houses of Congress have stalled recently, with Democrats’ chances of retaining the Senate in the FiveThirtyEight forecaast down from 71% in mid-September to 68% now.

The Israeli election is on November 1, after a government formed to keep out Benjamin Netanyahu collapsed. A religious and right-wing coalition that would be led by Netanyahu’s Likud is currently polling at 59-62 of the 120 Knesset seats in the last four polls, with the current governing parties at a combined 54-57. The Joint Arab List split in two, and one of the new parties is unlikely to make the 3.25% threshold to win seats; this helps Netanyahu.

Britain’s next PM announcement: 9:30pm AEST tonight

Liz Truss set to be Britain’s next PM. Also: US Democrats’ midterm prospects improve, and Bolsonaro likely to be ousted in October’s Brazilian elections.

9:47pm Monday: It’s a lot closer than the polls had it, but still a very easy win for Liz Truss. She wins over 81,000 votes to over 60,000 for Rishi Sunak. In percentage terms, that’s a 57.4-42.6 margin for Truss.

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 winner of the Conservative leadership contest, and thus Britain’s next PM, will be announced at 9:30pm AEST tonight (12:30pm UK time). In July, Conservative MPs whittled the candidates down to a final two: Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. The Conservative membership voted by mail between these two, with the postal reception deadline passing Friday.

A YouGov poll of 1,089 Conservative members for Sky News UK that was conducted August 12-17, gave Truss a 66-34 lead over Sunak, down from her 69-31 lead in early August. Among the 57% who had already voted, Truss led by 68-31. Boris Johnson would easily win a three-way race with 46%, to 24% for Truss and 23% Sunak.

In national UK polls, Labour has taken a double digit lead over the Conservatives. A key reason is the massive rise in energy prices, with the price regulator confirming on August 26 that energy prices for the typical household would increase 80% from October compared to now. That means gas and electricity prices this coming northern winter will be about 2.6 times what they were in the 2021-22 winter after a large increase in April.

It’s also plausible that some people voted for Johnson at the 2019 election, rather than for the Conservative party. By ousting Johnson, the Conservatives could alienate these voters. But the next UK general election is not due until late 2024, and the economy may be better then.

US by-elections suggest improved prospects for Democrats at midterms

I wrote for The Conversation last Thursday that before the US Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade ruling on June 24, the average US by-election was recording a two-point gain for Republicans relative to partisan lean. In four by-elections since, it’s been an average of a nine-point gain for Democrats. This analysis does not include the Alaska by-election on August 16, which was resolved Wednesday by preferential voting. Democrat Mary Peltola defeated Republican Sarah Palin to gain this seat.

Polling is also consistent with a lift for the Democrats two months before the November 8 midterm elections, while Liz Cheney suffered a crushing loss in the Wyoming Republican primary.

Brazilian elections: October 2 and 30 (if necessary)

The first round of the Brazilian presidential election will be held October 2, with a runoff October 30 if no candidate wins at least 50%. The contenders are far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula), who was president from 2003 to 2010.

In five polls conducted at least partly since the August 28 first presidential debate, Lula leads Bolsonaro by between four and 13 points. Another left-wing candidate is winning 8-9%, so Lula will probably not win outright in the first round. In the runoff, Lula has a seven to 15 point lead over Bolsonaro.

Italian, Swedish and Israeli elections

There hasn’t been much change in Italian polls ahead of the September 25 election since my detailed write-up three weeks ago. The right-wing coalition is in the high 40s, the left coalition in the high 20s or low 30s, the Five Star Movement has about 12% and a centrist alliance about 7%. With 37% of parliamentary seats to be elected by first past the post, the female leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, is likely to be Italy’s next PM.

The Swedish election is next Sunday, and it uses proportional representation (PR) to elect its 349 MPs. The Social Democrats are well ahead, but only have 29% so would be far short of a majority. They would still need at least one more coalition ally after the Left party and the Greens.

The Israeli election will be held November 1 after the collapse of a coalition formed to keep former PM Benjamin Netanyahu out. The 120 Knesset seats are elected by PR with a 3.25% threshold. Polls currently suggest that Netanyahu’s Likud, with religious and far-right allies, would fall short of the 61 seats needed for a Knesset majority, but are ahead of the current governing parties.

Italian election minus six weeks, US midterms and Britain’s next PM

The far-right is likely to win in Italy. Also: positive news for US Democrats three months before midterm elections, and Liz Truss set to be Britain’s next PM.

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 Italian election is on September 25.  At the March 2018 election, the right coalition won about 42% of seats in both chambers of the Italian parliament, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) 36% and the left coalition 19%.

With no majority for a single alliance, there were three governments during the 2018-22 term.  The first government, from June 2018 to August 2019, was a coalition between the M5S and the far-right League.  The second government, from September 2019 to January 2021, was a coalition between the M5S and the centre-left Democrats.  The third government, from February 2021 to July 2022, was a grand coalition led by technocrat Mario Draghi that all important parties joined except the far-right Brothers of Italy.

In July, this third government collapsed, and elections were called eight months early.  Since the 2018 election, there has been a crash in support for the M5S, with the League and the conservative Forza Italia also down.  The big beneficiary is the Brothers, who won just 4% in 2018, but are up to about 24% in current polls.

Italian governments need the confidence of both houses.  The Chamber of Deputies will have 400 members and the Senate 200.  Minimum voting age for the Senate was lowered from 25 to 18, the same as in the Chamber.  Seventy-four Senate seats and 147 Chamber seats (about 37% of both) will be elected by First Past the Post, and the rest by proportional representation with a 3% national threshold.

The right coalition at this election is composed of the Brothers, the League, Forza Italia and a small party, while the left coalition is composed of the Democrats and three small parties.  The M5S, a centrist alliance and Italexit are running separately.  Coalitions will nominate just one candidate for each FPTP seat.

While the lead parties of the right and left coalitions, the Brothers and Democrats, are roughly tied at around 24% each in the polls, the right coalition overall has far more support.  Three recent polls give the right coalition 48-50%, the left coalition 27-32%, the M5S 10-11% and the centrists 5-6%.

If these polls were replicated at the election, the right coalition would win a large majority of the FPTP seats and over half the proportional seats as the 5% “others” would be excluded as it would be unlikely an individual other would reach the 3% threshold.

The right coalition is likely to win, and as the two biggest parties in that coalition, the Brothers and League, are far-right, Italy’s next PM is likely to be the female leader of the Brothers, Giorgia Meloni.

US Democrats gain ground three months before midterm elections

I wrote for The Conversation on Thursday that the US Supreme Court’s denial of abortion rights appears to be helping Democrats as they gain ground three months before the November 8 midterm elections.  In FiveThirtyEight forecasts, Democrats are now a 61% chance to win the Senate, and lead the national popular vote by 0.3%.  In Kansas, an attempt to alter the state constitution to remove abortion rights was rejected by 59-41; Kansas voted for Trump by nearly 15 points in 2020. 

Recent economic data is also assisting Democrats, as inflation looks much better while the jobs situation continues to be strong.  And Democrats got important legislation on health and climate change through the 50-50 Senate last Sunday, and this passed the House Friday, so Joe Biden can sign it into law.

Liz Truss set to be Britain’s next PM

Conservative members decide via a postal ballot between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak who will be their next leader and Britain’s PM.  The result will be announced September 5, but votes have already been sent out, and most members will return their votes quickly.

A YouGov poll of Conservative members, taken by early August from a sample of 1,040, gave Truss a 69-31 lead over Sunak (60-26 with undecided and won’t vote included).  Truss’ lead increased from 62-38 in the poll taken after the final two candidates were known.  Conservative members thought it was wrong for their MPs to oust Boris Johnson by 53-41.  In a three-way vote, it would be 40% Johnson, 28% Truss and 23% Sunak.

Update Sunday: An Opinium poll of 570 Conservative members, conducted August 8-13 from a sample of 570 for The Guardian/Observer, gave Truss a 61-39 lead. Johnson would trounce either candidate head to head.

UK Conservative leadership contest: final MP rounds

Which candidates will make the final two that go to Conservative members? Updates on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

11:55am Friday: A YouGov poll of 730 Conservative members, conducted after the final two were known, gave Truss a massive 62-38 lead over Sunak. Including undecided and won’t vote, it was Truss 49%, Sunak 31%, undecided 15% and won’t vote 6%. 40% said Sunak can’t be trusted to tell the truth, only 18% thought the same of Truss.

The Italian government has collapsed, and elections will be held on September 25 about six months before they were due. Far-right parties are likely to win these elections.

7:33am Thursday: In the final round of MPs’ votes, Sunak won 137 votes (39% of the total), Truss 113 votes (32%) and Mordaunt was eliminated with 105 votes (30%). Changes from round four were Truss up 27, Sunak up 19 and Mordaunt up 13. So it’s Sunak vs Truss in the membership vote. This will be conducted by mail with the result announced September 5. Truss had a 54-35 lead over Sunak in a YouGov Conservative members poll.

8:12pm Results of the final round of MPs votes will be announced at 4pm UK time (1am AEST). I will report them here tomorrow morning.

12:16am Wednesday In the fourth round vote, Sunak had 118 votes (33% of the total), Mordaunt 92 (26%), Truss 86 (24%) and Badenoch was eliminated with 59 (17%). Changes were Truss up 15, Mordaunt up 10, Sunak up three and Badenoch up one.

Truss now trails Mordaunt by just six votes, with 59 votes to come from the right-wing Badenoch. Truss is very likely now to make the final two. A new YouGov poll has Truss thrashing Sunak 54-35 head to head among Tory members, and he also loses to Mordaunt 51-37.

The candidate who courted her party’s right is likely to be the next PM of the UK.

7:15pm Results of today’s vote will be announced at 3pm UK time (midnight AEST).

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.

At Monday’s third round vote by Conservative MPs, Rishi Sunak won 115 votes (32% of the total), followed by Penny Mordaunt with 82 votes (23%), Liz Truss 71 votes (20%), Kemi Badenoch 58 votes (16%) and Tom Tugendhat 31 votes (9%). As the last placed candidate, Tugendhat was eliminated. The changes in votes since Thursday’s second round were Sunak up 14, Badenoch up nine, Truss up seven, Mordaunt and Tugendhat both down one.

Conservative MPs will eliminate another candidate tonight (likely Badenoch), then the final elimination vote will occur Wednesday. The final two go to the Conservative membership, which votes by mail. The result will be announced September 5. Brief profiles of the remaining candidates appear below.

Sunak was the former chancellor. Boris Johnson was forced to resign soon after Sunak quit. As I said in my previous article, Sunak is the only candidate advocating fiscal rectitude, while other candidates want tax cuts NOW!

Mordaunt is a junior minister. Her appeal is to those who want a complete break from Johnson by replacing him with someone virtually unknown, and her attractiveness probably helped.

Truss is the foreign secretary. During this leadership campaign, she has heavily courted her party’s most right-wing MPs. As well as personal tax cuts, she has promised to reverse a scheduled rise in the corporations tax from 18% to 25% and to cut green levies.

Badenoch was a junior minister. She has campaigned against the “woke” agenda, and is the only remaining contender who has not signed up to the UK’s net zero by 2050 goal.

Further analysis

Sunak is only five short of the 120 votes (just over one-third of MPs) needed to guarantee a membership vote spot, but Mordaunt is likely to lose after Badenoch is eliminated. She could be saved if voters of the centrist Tugendhat break strongly to her over Sunak, or if some Sunak voters tactically vote for Mordaunt over Truss in the final round; he’s likely to be able to spare some votes.

A YouGov poll of Conservative members last week had Mordaunt crushing everyone else head to head, but this already looks out of date. A Conservative Home survey out Sunday (not sure if this is a real poll) had large falls for Mordaunt since the previous week, and she now loses to Badenoch, Truss and Sunak, with Truss leading Sunak 49-42.

Mordaunt has been damaged by claims she is too woke, and her performances at debates Friday and Sunday haven’t helped. The woke accusations are likely to particularly hurt with Badenoch voters.

Last week I said national polls taken since Johnson was ousted showed a swing to Labour, giving Labour a double digit lead over the Conservatives. There has been little change in the polls since then. Although Johnson was ousted by Conservative MPs, the government won a parliamentary confidence vote Monday by 349 to 238, with all Conservatives voting for confidence.

Australian election coverage at The Conversation

I wrote about the final 2022 election results; all seat changes occurred in the cities, and inner metro regions had the largest difference in Labor’s favour from national results since at least 1993. I covered the final Senate results and critically compared the pre-election polls to the election results – that article was published before an exact national two party vote was known.

UK Conservative leadership contest: early rounds

The contest to replace Boris Johnson begins, with updates Thursday and Friday mornings. Also: thoughts on the late June US Supreme Court decisions.

12:15am Friday: Sunak wins round 2 with 101 votes (28% of total), Mordaunt second with 83 (23%), Truss 64 (18%), Badenoch 49 (14%), Tugendhat 32 (9%) and Braverman 27 (8%). Braverman is eliminated. A YouGov poll of Conservative members has Mordaunt thumping both Sunak and Truss head to head, with Truss thumping Sunak. On this round, Braverman and Tugendhat lost votes from round 1 even though candidates dropped out. The next round is Monday.

8:15pm Guardian live blog says today’s vote will be announced at 3pm UK time (midnight AEST). So two hours earlier than yesterday.

6:17am Thursday: Round 1 result: Sunak 88 votes, 25% of total, Mordaunt 67, 19%, Truss 50, 14%, Badenoch 40, 11%, Tugendhat 37, 10%, Braverman 32, 9%, Zahawi 25, 7% and Hunt 18, 5%. Hunt and Zahawi are eliminated for failing to get the 30 votes required to advance.

One of the six remaining candidates will be eliminated each round until there are two left, who will go to the membership. While Sunak won this round, he is not safe as his support is well below the 33.3% required to assure advancement to the membership vote. I think the question is whether Truss can overtake Mordaunt once other right-wingers are eliminated. There will be a second round today.

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.

To elect a new leader, Conservative MPs vote in rounds with the lowest polling candidate eliminated each round, until there are just two left. Those final two go to the Conservative membership, which votes by mail. Candidates required at least 20 MP supporters to nominate. Eight candidates have cleared this threshold.

Results for today’s first round are expected at 2am AEST. The lowest polling candidate and any others who fail to reach 30 votes are eliminated. There are 358 Conservative MPs in the House of Commons. A second round of voting is likely Thursday, then a third round next Monday. The final two will be known by July 21, and the winner of the membership vote will be announced on September 5.

To be certain to make the final round, a candidate needs one-third of the MPs’ vote. The membership is more right-wing than MPs, so if a right-wing candidate makes the final two, that candidate could win.

At the moment, this appears to be a contest between former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and everyone else. Sunak is sticking to fiscal rectitude in not offering a tax cut until inflation of 9.1% is under control, while other candidates want a tax cut NOW! Sunak is likely to make one of the final two spots, and I don’t know who will win the other spot.

There was good news for Labour leader Keir Starmer, as he and his deputy, Angela Rayner, were recently cleared by Durham police over allegations they breached lockdown rules while campaigning last year. Starmer had pledged to resign if fined.

Boris Johnson resigned as Conservative leader on July 7, but remains caretaker PM until a new leader is elected. If he was holding back the Conservative vote, I would have expected a polling rebound for the Conservatives once he was ousted, but the opposite has happened, with Labour getting double digit leads in most polls taken since Johnson’s ousting. Perhaps Johnson was holding up the Conservatives with non-university educated whites outside the big cities.

US Supreme Court decisions

I wrote for The Conversation on July 5 about the recent history of appointments to the US Supreme Court that has created the current 6-3 right split. While the Supreme Court is historically unpopular, so is President Joe Biden, and so the Democrats are still likely to be thumped at the early November US midterm elections.

Furthermore, having two senators per state makes the US Senate heavily malapportioned, with a large bias towards rural and small town voters, which have been trending towards Republicans at recent elections. This bias could give Republicans a lock on the Senate.

Japanese upper house elections

Elections for half of the Japanese upper house were held on Sunday. The ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won 63 of the 125 seats up for election (up six) and its Komeito allies 13 (down one). The LDP holds 119 of the 248 total seats and Komeito 27 for a comfortable overall majority. Japan has separate upper and lower house elections. These elections were marred by the assassination of former LDP PM Shinzo Abe on Friday.

Boris totters

Boris Johnson digs in, but the consensus view is that the crisis of his leadership is in its terminal phase.

7:29pm AEST by Adrian Beaumont: Boris Johnson is to resign, but wants to remain caretaker PM until a new Conservative leader is elected this northern autumn.  Will this be acceptable to Conservative MPs, or will they demand he resign immediately with a caretaker PM taking over until the election of a new leader?

Conservative MPs vote in rounds with the lowest polling leadership candidate eliminated each round, until there are just two left.  Those final two go to the right-wing Conservative membership, which votes by mail.  To be certain to make the final round, a candidate needs one-third of the MPs’ vote.  The membership is more right-wing than MPs, so if a right-wing candidate makes the final two, that candidate could win.

William Bowe’s original post

As of very early morning Australian time, the situation in Britain as I understand is that 34 ministers and aides have resigned citing lack of confidence in Boris Johnson as Prime Minister — including two of the most senior cabinet ministers in Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary — and that a delegation of about seven of the 23 cabinet ministers have confronted him to demand his resignation, one of whom is freshly minted chancellor Nadhim Zahawi. At least some of these have told Johnson that they will resign if he doesn’t.

Johnson is nonetheless refusing to go, and the Conservative Party’s governing 1922 committee has decided not to change rules prohibiting two leadership votes within a year, after he narrowly survived one a month ago. A second delegation of members of parliament has also gone to 10 Downing Street to urge him to fight on, which reportedly included Zahawi, determined to have two bob each way. However, elections for a new executive of the 1922 committee will be held next Monday, which could produce a result that will revisit the question of rewriting the party rules, potentially forcing Johnson out.

There have been suggestions that Johnson might seek a way out by calling a snap election, on which he is apparently sending mixed signals. It would seem to me that this would put Her Majesty in a difficult spot, since she ought not grant a dissolution to a Prime Minister who does not hold the confidence of parliament if a new administration can be formed without one. My guess though is that it won’t ultimately come to that.