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.