As election 2019 kicks off, the only certainty is a cranky and mistrustful electorate



File 20190406 115803 u1ssf9.png?ixlib=rb 1.1

Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Frank Bongiorno, Australian National University

The choice for voters at the 2019 federal election, called by Scott Morrison for 18 May, will in an important respect be exactly the same as every other election held since 1910. Voters get to choose which of two sides next gets to run the country.

Beyond that basic similarity, Australian federal elections fall into two types: those in which the government is returned, and those in which the government is defeated.

The former is much more common. Governments have been returned at general elections 31 times since federation, compared with just a dozen changes of government (I’ve included the peculiar case of the dismissal in 1975 as a change of government, although it technically was not). When an opposition challenges a government at the polls, it’s battling the weight of history.




Read more:
A Shorten government could shift the country on important issues and show a little spunk


Those elections that see a change in government are often thought of as the most significant. Paul Keating has been credited with saying that if you change the government, you change the country. But it’s also true that you can change the country by returning a government.

In 2016, electors changed the country when they refused to give Malcolm Turnbull the ringing endorsement he craved. Instead, they offered the slimmest of majorities, thereby delivering him more completely into the hands of his party’s right wing and the National Party. His prime ministership never recovered and he was toppled before the end of his term.

In 1987, Australian voters also changed the country by returning the Hawke government. In doing so, they postponed a Howard prime ministership by almost a decade, and ensured policies that were still contentious in 1987 – such as Medicare – would survive the opposition of the free-marketeers in the Liberal Party. The combination of economic rationalism and social protection that the Hawke government had pursued since 1983 would survive because electors decided they were unwilling to support a more bracing conservatism.

join The Conversation in Melbourne

The return of Keating in 1993 had similar effects. The rejection of the Liberals’ Fightback! manifesto did not end the possibility of a goods and services tax. But it did ensure that when the Coalition returned to office in 1996, it was reconciled to universal health insurance and a social safety net, however reluctantly. When Howard sought to move beyond the informal compact with voters he established in 1996 by introducing radical industrial relations reform via WorkChoices, he was promptly despatched.

Another way of classifying elections might be to divide them between contests in which the parties seem to be offering distinct alternatives, and those in which they converge even as they rip each other apart in an attempt to manufacture difference.

This is a fuzzy distinction that often requires a closer knowledge of policy than most voters possess. It is also the case that Australia’s system of compulsory voting motivates parties to appeal to the centre instead of making more extreme pitches to mobilise their “base”, as we see in the United States.

That process of convergence is easy enough to observe at this election. Bernard Keane has recently pointed out that, in its economic policy, the Morrison government “has been more Labor than Liberal”, adding: “Take the name off the cover, and you’d be hard pressed to work out just which side of politics had produced it.”

Keane has a point, of course, but there are also policy differences: on taxation, on negative gearing, and on franking credits for retirees. The Labor Party is worrying over intergenerational inequality, and issues such as housing affordability and wages, in the ways the Coalition is not. And there are significant differences over energy and the environment.

The point here is that the times have changed since the heyday of neoliberalism under Hawke, Keating and Howard. Voters have made it clear they want governments to do something about inequality, and they are unable to accept that the operations of the market and the interests of the public amount to the same thing.

In this respect, the 2019 contest may well be thought of as Australia’s first post-GFC election. Of course, this is not literally so: we’ve had three. But in another sense, it seems to me to be true; the GFC has now caught up with us. That was not the case while the China boom continued, and while enough people believed the mining lobby when it told them any government proposing to kill the goose that laid the iron-ore egg was unfit for office.




Read more:
The end of uncertainty? How the 2019 federal election might bring stability at last to Australian politics


A temporary rise in commodity prices has provided the basis of a spending free-for-all in which both government and opposition have joined, each aimed at buying an election victory. But no one seriously imagines that any temporary budget improvement represents a long-run trend in Australia’s economic circumstances. In line with global developments, for the foreseeable future we are likely to experience lower rates of economic growth than those to which we have been accustomed.

Australian voters are also now much more preoccupied with how the neoliberal consensus of the 1990s and early 2000s, whatever it has achieved in the past, now works against their interests. They are concerned about their flat wages and rising cost of living. They demand that governments make the wealthy contribute a fair share to meeting the tax burden. They are impatient with what they see as the greed and amorality of big business and big government. And they are less tolerant than a generation ago of rising inequality.

But above all, they really dislike politicians. This is not new – it was there even in colonial times – but it is potent and growing. The Australian National University’s Australian Election Study revealed that the 1996 and 2007 elections – each of which saw a change of government – coincided with a rise in political trust and satisfaction with democracy. The 2013 change-of-government election did not. At the 2016 election, trust fell to alarming proportions.

It may well be that this number – which Antony Green’s hardworking computer will not spit out on election night – is really the one to watch once the dust settles on the 2019 election.The Conversation

Frank Bongiorno, Professor of History, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Advertisements

Australian Politics: 12 July 2013


The Kevin Rudd juggernaut continues to gain momentum in the electorate, with the possibility of seat gains in Queensland.

For more visit:
ALP Look to Pick Up Queensland Seats

The scandal that just doesn’t want to away is that surrounding Peter Slipper, with thoughts that there is more to come.

For more visit:
More to Come in Slipper Scandal
Government to Pay Peter Slipper Legal Costs

There are also other issues on the political scene in Australia, including the asylum seeker merry-go-round, the National Broadband Network and more.

For more on these other issues visit:
Legality Issue Over Asylum Seeker policy
Mike Quigley Leaves NBN
CEO Departure Means Little for Most NBN Users

Queensland and the Gonski Reforms


Clive Palmer’s Melt Down Over Airport Body Scan

Australia: Rudd 2.0 Fighting the Abbottsphere


Kevin Rudd is back and ‘zipping’ about, putting the Abbott and all his men (as well as a few women) to the sword and in the eyes of the electorate (a good percentage of it anyway) there is finally some leadership and fight back in the ALP.

For more visit:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/28/kevin-rudd-coalition-greens-policy

INDIA: CHRISTIANS BREATHE EASIER AFTER ELECTIONS


How Hindu extremist BJP will respond to surprising defeat, though, remains to be seen.

NEW DELHI, May 21 (Compass Direct News) – Christians in India are heaving a sigh of relief after the rout of a Hindu nationalist party in national and state assembly elections in Orissa state, a scene of anti-Christian arson and carnage last year.

The ruling centrist party won a second term, but concerns over persecution of minorities remain.

A local centrist party, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), took charge of the government of the eastern state of Orissa today, and tomorrow the new federal government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be sworn in, representing a second term for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the left-of-center Indian National Congress, commonly known as the Congress Party.

“The election result is a statement against the persecution of non-Hindus,” Vijay Simha, a senior journalist and political analyst, told Compass.

“There were a string of incidents against non-Hindus, which were principally enacted by right-wing outfits,” added Simha, who reported on anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal district of Orissa in August-September 2008. “Since the vote went against right-wing parties, the result is a strong rejection of extremist religious programs.”

John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council (AICC), said the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was “defeated not by Christians or Muslims, but by secular Hindus.”

Over 80 percent of the more than 1 billion people in India are Hindu. Christians form around 2.3 percent of the population, and Muslims about 14 percent.

The Times of India on Saturday (May 16) quoted Rahul Gandhi, general secretary of the Congress Party, as saying that his party’s victory was a rejection of politics of caste and religion and acceptance of “clean and honest” policies symbolized by Prime Minister Singh.

“Internal criticisms within the BJP have brought out that it is losing popularity among youth as well as among the urban middle classes, two segments where it had been strong earlier and which represent the emergent India of the 21st century,” stated an editorial in the daily.

Crossroads

The BJP’s defeat at the national level is expected to compel the party to decide whether it turns to moderation in its ideology or more extremism in desperation.

“The BJP now faces a dilemma … Its appeal based on Hindutva [Hindu nationalism] and divisiveness stands rejected by the electorate,” wrote Prem Prakash of ANI news agency. “Where does the party go from here? … The party seems to be waiting for the RSS to provide answers for all this . . . The time has come for it to clearly define what kind of secularism it accepts or preaches.”

Hopes of Christians, however, abound.

“I am hoping that the BJP will learn that it does not pay to persecute minorities, and that civilized Hindus are disgusted with divisive antics of the RSS family,” said the AICC’s Dayal.

Father Dominic Emmanuel of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese is also hopeful.

“Let’s hope that the new government would work harder to protect all minorities, particularly the constitutional guarantees with regard to religious freedom,” he said.

Father Babu Joseph of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India said, “The Indian Catholic bishops are confident that the Congress Party-led UPA government will keep its promises of safeguarding the country from communal and divisive forces and restore confidence among all sections of people, particularly among the religious minorities for providing a stable, secular and democratic government.”

Threats Continue

The defeat of the BJP, however, may not bring much respite to those facing persecution at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups.

“One would expect a lessening in persecution of Christians and other non-Hindus – however, extremist groups often step up activities to garner funds and patronage when they are on the retreat,” warned journalist Simha. “So, one could also see a rise in anti-minority activities.”

The BJP, which began ruling the federal government in 1998, was defeated by the Congress Party in 2004, which, too, was seen as a mandate against Hindu nationalism. Prime Minister Singh said during his swearing in ceremony in May 2004 that the mandate for the Congress-led UPA was for change and “strengthening the secular foundation of our republic.”

After the BJP’s defeat, however, Christian persecution did not stop. According to the Christian Legal Association, at least 165 anti-Christian attacks were reported in 2005, and over 130 in 2006. In 2007, the number of incidents rose to over 1,000, followed by the worst-ever year, 2008, for the Christian minority in India.

Forsaking its extremist ideology could also be difficult for the BJP because there was a leadership change in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist conglomerate and the parent organization of the BJP, a month before the elections. On March 21, Mohan Rao Bhagwat, formerly general secretary, was made the head of the RSS.

On March 22, The Hindu quoted an anonymous leader of the BJP as saying, “Mr. Bhagwat has clarity in ideology; he is a quick decision-maker; he takes everybody along; and he expects 100 per cent implementation of decisions.”

A day before his ascent to the top position, Bhagwat had sent a message to RSS workers across the country to come out in full force and “ensure 100 percent voting” in “the interest of Hindus” during this year’s elections, added the daily.

Further, after the BJP’s defeat in 2004, sections of the cadre of the RSS and affiliated groups broke away from the conglomerate as they felt the organization was too “moderate” to be able to establish a Hindu nation. Among the known Hindu splinter groups are the Abhinav Bharat (Pride of India), which operates mainly in the north-central state of Madhya Pradesh and the western state of Maharashtra, and the Sri Ram Sene (Army of Rama, a Hindu god), which recently became infamous for its violently misogynistic moral policing in the city of Mangalore, Karnataka.

Furthermore, there are pockets, especially in the central parts of the country and parts of Karnataka in the south, where the BJP remains a dominant party.

Embarrassing Defeat

Results of the general elections and state assembly polls in Orissa and the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, which were held simultaneously between April 16 and May 13, were declared on Saturday (May 16).

Of the 543 parliamentary constituencies, 262 went to the UPA. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the BJP, got 160, while the Third Front, a grouping of smaller and regional parties led by communists, bagged only 79.

The Congress Party alone won 206 seats, whereas the BJP’s count was 116 – a strong indication that a majority of the people in Hindu-majority India are against Hindu extremism.

The UPA has the support of 315 Members of Parliament, far higher than the 272 minimum needed to form government.

The embarrassing defeat for the BJP came as a surprise. Hoping to gain from its hardcore Hindu nationalist image, the BJP had made leader Narendra Modi, accused of organizing an anti-Muslim pogrom in the western state of Gujarat in 2002, its star campaigner.

Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, spoke in around 200 election rallies, out of which the party could win only 18 seats outside Gujarat.

In Orissa, where the BJP had openly supported the spate of attacks on Christians in Kandhamal district following the murder of a Hindu nationalist leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, by Maoists on Aug. 23, 2008, the party won not a single parliamentary seat – not even in Kandhamal.

The BJP candidate for the Kandhamal constituency, Ashok Sahu, contested from jail, as he was arrested on April 14 for making an inflammatory speech against Christians. Sahu hoped to gain the sympathy of Hindus by going to jail.

The BJP was sharing power with the ruling BJD in Orissa until March 17. The BJD broke up its 11-year-old alliance with the BJP over its role in the violence that lasted for over a month and killed more than 127 people and destroyed 315 villages, 4,640 houses, 252 churches and 13 educational institutions, besides rendering more than 50,000 homeless.

Even in the state assembly elections in Orissa, the BJP faced a debacle. Of the 147 seats, it won only seven. The BJD swept the polls with 109 seats. The Congress Party managed to get 27.

The seven assembly seats won by the BJP include two from Kandhamal district. The BJP’s Manoj Pradhan, who is facing 14 cases of rioting and murder in connection with the Kandhamal violence, won the G. Udayagiri assembly seat in Kandhamal. In the Balliguda assembly constituency, also in Kandhamal, BJP sitting legislator Karendra Majhi retained the seat. Both G. Udayagiri and Balliguda were at the epicenter of the last year’s violence.

Even in Andhra Pradesh state, where Hindu nationalist groups have launched numerous attacks on Christians in the last few years, the BJP had a poor showing. Of the 42 parliamentary seats, the Congress Party won 33. The BJP’s count was nil.

In assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress Party won 158 of the 294 seats, gaining a majority to form the state government for another five-year term. The BJP did not get even one seat.

In the northern state of Uttarakhand, where the BJP is a ruling party, its count was zero. The Congress Party won all five parliamentary seats.

In Rajasthan state, also in the north, the BJP could win only four seats. The Congress Party, on the other hand, won 20. The BJP had passed an anti-conversion law in 2006 when it was a ruling party. The bill is yet to be signed by the state governor.

In the 2009 election, the BJP got 10 seats in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, where the Congress Party got only one. In the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, the BJP won three of the four seats.

In the eastern state of Jharkhand, the BJP bagged eight seats, and the Congress Party only one. In Gujarat, the BJP’s tally was 15, whereas the Congress won 11. In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP won 16 and Congress 12.

Report from Compass Direct News

INDIAN POLITICAL PARTY WANTS TO BAN ANTI-CHRISTIAN GROUPS IN THE COUNTRY


During this month (April 2009) the world’s biggest democracy – India goes to the polls and, according to the BBC, an electorate of 714 million people will be eligible to vote, reports James Varghese, special to ASSIST News Service.

“The election is expected to be an exceedingly close race between India’s two main parties, the Indian National Congress (Congress) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and a number of regional and caste-based parties,” said a BBC story.

“Voting will be staggered over a period of one month with the first polls opening on 16 April 16.”

Now comes the news that a political party in India has made a statement that if it wins the election, it would ban all anti-Christian groups and offer the reservation of jobs, status and land for minorities.

According to a story from the Global Council of Indian Christians and carried on their website — www.persecution.in — the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) said on Tuesday that it if it comes to power, it would ban the Rashtriya Swayam Sevaks (RSS National Volunteer Servants), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, and also called World Hindu Council) and Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

According to the website this statement was made by Abdul Khaliq, the Party secretary general, while releasing a manifesto.

The party also said that it would amend the Constitution to enable 15 per cent reservation of jobs for minorities, including 10 per cent for Muslims.

According to the website, the party said it would offer “leakage proof reservations for Scheduled Caste (SC)s and Scheduled Tribe (ST)s, SC status for Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians and land for landless poor belonging to SC and ST communities.”

Report from the Christian Telegraph