US elections: when in doubt, do nothing

America’s Democrats sighed with relief after Tuesday’s mid-term elections, even though they look likely to narrowly lose control of the House of Representatives, and perhaps even the Senate.

Because notwithstanding high levels of voter dissatisfaction, the widely-anticipated Republican wave petered out.

We should be impressed with the ability of diverse voters and voting regimes over a sprawling continent to deliver such finely nuanced results (including decisive victories for Trump Republican rivals such as Brian Kemp in Georgia and Ron DeSantis in Florida).

Continue reading “US elections: when in doubt, do nothing”

Hamilton West – a raft of issues will be aired during the byelection Ardern did not want

Nominations for Labour and National for the Hamilton West byelection close tomorrow  and – while the  rest  of  New Zealand was slumbering,  politically, over Labour  weekend – hopeful new members of Parliament were busy sounding out  their  prospects  to  win   their  party’s  nomination.

National will be breathing a sigh of relief that this time round there is more diversity in the lineup than for Tauranga.

If  someone  tries  to  tell you  there  won’t be  much   interest   because  of  Labour’s  majority of  over  6000  at  the  last  election, don’t  believe it.  As many  as  seven people may be putting their names in the ring for National, while Labour seems to have  lower interest to run in the byelection forced by the resignation of Gaurav Sharma after his expulsion from the Labour Party.

Adding  spice  to  the  political  speculation is  a  rumour  that  Jacinda  Ardern  may  cast  her  role  aside  and  escape   back  into  the  big  smoke  of  Auckland.  This  has  been  given  legs  by   no  less  an  authority  than Dr  Bryce  Edwards (see here ) although the  NZ  Herald ‘s redoubtable political  editor   Clare  Trevett has  dismissed it. Continue reading “Hamilton West – a raft of issues will be aired during the byelection Ardern did not want”

Bryce Edwards puts a spotlight on Hamilton West: Here comes an unpredictable and intense by-election

DR BRYCE EDWARDS,  director of the Democracy Project, looks at the political climate in Hamilton West as  the political parties prepare to campaign for support in a by-election.  He writes: 

Get ready for a hard-fought and intense by-election in Hamilton West, triggered by the resignation from Parliament of former Labour MP Gaurav Sharma. Both Labour and National are going to throw everything at winning this by-election.   Complicating matters, there will be a number of minor parties and fringe elements – Sharma included – that might have a big impact on the result.

At this stage, the outcome is entirely unpredictable, with both Labour and National having good reasons for desperately needing to win it, and with some good reasons to expect success. But it’s likely to be a very close race, and a number of vital factors could determine which way victory goes.

The National Party is the frontrunner 

National is surely seen as the frontrunner in the by-election, due to the party’s hold over the seat in 4 out of 5 preceding elections, together with the fact that the Labour Government is currently in the doldrums.

As always, Opposition parties seek to turn by-elections into referendums on the current performance of the incumbents – and at present there is a lot about the Labour Government for the public to be dissatisfied about. This was evidenced by last week’s local government elections, which have also been described as a referendum on the current government. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards puts a spotlight on Hamilton West: Here comes an unpredictable and intense by-election”

Climate change has Boris wilting

Winter by-elections are rarely kind to governments.  But Boris Johnson’s Conservative party held on to a south London stronghold on a low turnout with a tolerably-reduced majority.

More worrying was that 1,400 voters got out of bed (one presumes) on a bitterly cold day to vote for the relatively anonymous candidate of a rebranded populist Reform party.  That’s about as many as the Greens and Liberals could manage between them.

After two years of setting the agenda, the talk now is of Boris losing his grip. But might it be the change in his agenda?

Continue reading “Climate change has Boris wilting”

Trumpism is back.  But what is Trumpism?

Because the Commonwealth of Virginia holds its elections one year after America’s federal elections, it can serve as a mid-term report card for the national government a few miles up the road in Washington DC. Message to Biden: must pay attention and try harder.

Virginia has been moving decisively towards the Democrats for more than a decade now.  But election night results suggest that the Republicans are going to make a clean sweep in both executive offices and the lower house.  Their candidate for Governor, the delightfully named Glenn Youngkin (truly – could Trumpkin ever have been elected President) defeated a well-funded aggressively-campaigning former incumbent for the job.

Continue reading “Trumpism is back.  But what is Trumpism?”

With MMP the politicians have to decide what Germany has decided

Voters in the German federal election on Sunday had the opportunity to sweep away the detritus of 16 years of compromises from retiring Chancellor Angela Merkel.  

The Green party led in the opinion polls by a good margin earlier in the year.  Only a few days ago, the Guardian dared to dream of a red-blooded left-wing coalition between Social Democrats, Greens and the former communist Left Party united by desire for higher taxes, more pernickety controls and a slug of anti-Americanism.

In the end, the German voters did what they have done for much of the post-war era, giving victory to the parties of the right (acknowledging that these labels seem to be less meaningful these days).

Continue reading “With MMP the politicians have to decide what Germany has decided”

Should liberals be voting for Trump?

You don’t come to Point of Order for a 5,000 word essay on liberalism (for that you read ‘Liberalism and its Discontents’ by Francis Fukuyama at American Purpose).

But he does have a handy definition:

“Classical liberalism can best be understood as an institutional solution to the problem of governing over diversity … The most fundamental principle enshrined in liberalism is one of tolerance: You do not have to agree with your fellow citizens about the most important things, but only that each individual should get to decide what those things are without interference from you or from the state.

And using this yardstick of containing diverse views, let’s look at some of the ways in which Trump’s Republicans or Biden’s Democrats might go should they prevail in America’s national elections next week.

Continue reading “Should liberals be voting for Trump?”

NZ chooses hope over fear – we’ll find out which was the wiser choice

Viewed from the far side of the world, Jacinda Ardern’s triumphant re-election suggests an extraordinary level of hope and expectation behind the voters’ decision.  If it can’t be managed down, it’s hard to see how it can be met.

The opposition National Party were singularly unsuccessful in tapping into voters’ fears for the future and selling themselves as the safer option.  Instead, they appear to have leaked voters predisposed to such fears to the ACT party.  

Given that their signature tune in recent years has been the argument we can finesse the ‘hard choices’ more realistically and efficiently than the Labour party, they should not be altogether surprised that middling voters grasped at the government’s suggestion that some hard choices might be avoided altogether (for you and your family, and maybe even for the country).

Continue reading “NZ chooses hope over fear – we’ll find out which was the wiser choice”

The logic of a Trump win

With the opinion polls showing a healthy lead for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and the betting markets now putting him odds on, how might Donald Trump pull off a win in the US presidential contest on 3 November.

Well, Hillary also had a comfortable lead this time in 2016.  Biden’s lead is also narrower in the crucial battleground states.  

This time Trump is the incumbent.  Historically, Americans usually grant a second term, except in unusual circumstances.  But Covid does seem pretty unusual.

Continue reading “The logic of a Trump win”