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No more years ?

September 3rd, 2004

A while ago, I discussed the idea that the forthcoming US election would be a good one for the Democrats to lose, eventually reaching the conclusion that the damage that would be caused by four more years of Bush would offset any political benefits from finally discrediting the Republicans.

Now Niall Ferguson looks at the same question from the other side. Like me[1], he thinks this would be a good election for either party to lose. But, since he’s taking the Republican side of the debate, the damage that a second Bush term would cause is an argument in favor of his case. He concludes

moderate Republicans today may justly wonder if a second Bush term is really in their best interests. Might four years of Kerry not be preferable to eight or more years of really effective Democratic leadership?

fn1. Though not for exactly the same reasons. He puts more weight on criticisms of Kerry than I think can be justified, and less on the extent to which painful economic adjustments are already inevitable.

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  1. Mark
    September 3rd, 2004 at 12:38 | #1

    I have been wondering about the Australian election outcome in a similar way. Particularly IF the outcome either way is narrow?

    Since 1975 in national elections at least changes of government have started with an initial thumping win to set up ongoing election success. A narrow win for Labor would make it difficult to establish a long period in office especially with Labor governments in all states and the prospect the economy must eventually take a pause.

    A narrow win for the Liberals (their only prospect of winning is narrowly i would have thought?) raises the prospect of them getting a thumping next time to put them out on the grass for a lengthy spell. A Liberal win would then see Costello destined to go down as a short term PM for a year or so at the fag end of the Howard era.

  2. Matt
    September 3rd, 2004 at 13:26 | #2

    Agree with Mark. I think Costello in his secret heart of hearts would be hoping for a narrow Labor win followed by 3 years of not so good economic performance. He could then run on supposed ingrained Labor economic incompetence for a decade at least.

  3. Carlos
    September 3rd, 2004 at 13:30 | #3

    All this reminds me of Margo’s excellent piece:
    Labor’s Costello wedge keeps Wentworth on the move – By Margo Kingston

    My highlights:
    …A Sydney Liberal establishment figure involved with Australian refugee support groups, Renata Caldor, said of the choice between a Howard Liberal or Latham Labor Government at this election:
    “I would ideally like to have a Liberal government without John Howard as the leader. If you’re asking me the lesser of two evils, if I had my choice, I’ve got to say, after a lot of thought, I would prefer to have a Labor Party in power, at least for three years, and I think probably – perhaps – [that would] be enough. I think the damage perhaps that a Latham government would do to the country economically, to my mind, wouldn’t be quite as harmful as the damage to the social fabric that’s happened under the John Howard leadership.” From: http://sunday.ninemsn.com.au/sunday/feature_stories/article_1620.asp

    The Iraq war and other so-called ‘elite’ issues are hitting much harder in Liberal seats like Wentworth than in marginal Liberal seats. It is no accident that King recently protested against Howard’s abandonment of our citizens in Guantanamo Bay, quickly followed by Turnbull’s pronouncement at a community meeting at Bondi Beach that the war was “an unadulterated error”. The difference between the two is that Turnbull had to put out a statement denying his own statement, while King did not. King has since endorsed Tony Kevin’s book on SIEV-X as a thoughtful read raising questions the Government was obliged to answer (see “Liberal voter rumblings mean second front for Howard”)…

  4. Carlos
    September 3rd, 2004 at 14:41 | #4

    The beginning of the end…

    Whatever you might think of Margo Kingston and her arguments, she’s got a great instinct: the uniform closed ranks for the Libs are collapsing, and plenty of new flanks are opening up. She called that one first. Wouldn’t like to be in their shoes!

    Not what Libs want, right as they are going into their toughest battle.

    If we add the unexpected grenade or two:
    – Wilkie in Bennelong,
    – Children overboard and Scrafton,
    – Lies,
    – the 43
    – Johnhowardlies.com, “Not Happy, John!”, etc.

    The self inflicted stupidity:
    – A long campaign, Oct 9,
    – Turnbull, King &Wentworth?
    – the Lying Rodent,
    – Costello’s leadership talk,
    – Worth’s animal comments, etc.

    And a few more curly ones that will surely come their way:
    – Bush’s campaign,
    – Iraq,
    – Terrorism,
    – Labour’s policies actually hitting a cord,
    – Greenies hitting the jackpot, etc

    The beginning of the end… Alleluia!

    Ultimately though, it does come down to a continuing major party Duopoly or… my guess for the most likely scenario:
    a very narrow win either way, with a few independents (Wentworth?) and the Greens AND Democrats holding the balance of power in the Senate.

    All that talk of impending death for the Democrats is just that, talk. They’ll manage OK. And with a bit of luck, a few senators and nice preference flows will keep them quite relevant (but smaller).

    The big parties know that the electoral climate has changed a lot and that their cosy relationship will not stay that way for too much longer, especially once the Nats get creamed. Much more likely than the Dems disappearing.

    It might be wishful thinking, but I think we are headed to a future resembling Canada’s and NZ’s more balanced and constantly changing coalitions. Don’t be surprised if a few small groups, such as the “NOT HAPPY, JOHN”, Democrats and a few “l” liberal independents form their own alliances and deals.

    How the Greens fit in all this, is anyone’s guess. But I it will really depend on the actual electoral results, their bargaining power and political skill. The “Garrett” effect within Labour is another unknown. All these factors might end up pushing the whole spectrum to the left and to a much more “green-friendly” balance than now.

    That’s the real reason for the Green bashing, from both big parties. It’s almost instinctive, but very misguided and counterproductive. They do like their duopoly, but their time has passed.

    The beginning of the end…
    Times they are a changin’!

  5. michael s.
    September 3rd, 2004 at 16:17 | #5

    on an aside, while driving today Bush’s speech was on newsradio. I noticed that he mentioned Howard first when talking about world leaders who had supported him. Now as Blair is probably the only leader of a coalition country (or at least the most prominent) that most americans watchers would know. I’ve never heard any administration figure mention our own little nation first when listing off coalition members.

    Was Bush sending a nice little soundbite to Johnny for the six O’clock news?

  6. September 3rd, 2004 at 16:33 | #6

    Dems are dead. The duckbiting the Greens are getting at the moment is just creating them as a coherent force for idealists to connect to. People can’t even remember who is running the Dems; Meg Lees took a torch to their reputation and the dunning of Natasha just finished it off.

    I am not being flippant. They have had an unmitigated series of disasters that have kicked every possible support base they could have, even yoof. What is more, with a tight Senate competition for majority power, the ALP vote is less likely to drift to minor parties anyway…

    I wonder if we will see a reverse meme loose in the community where the cross-voting mob decide to put the ALP into the Reps and “control” them with a Liberal senate?

    The Vic ALP win over Kennett was interesting in that Bracks squeaked in and improved his majority next time round. That is a state thing, but it might work federally. For a while at least I reckon the government is actually proof against economic downturns like interest rates and unemployment, because it can be tied to the global economy.

    Why does anyone think the ALP will screw the economy? Hawke and Keating did well for a long time, and the Libs picked up on their consensus – in the broadest sense. it is as if the Libs are stuck in 1972.

  7. tipper
    September 4th, 2004 at 02:25 | #7

    Reality check
    Coalition @1.59
    Labor @2.56
    Coalition are firming and Labor are blowing out.
    Always remember, “follow the money”
    If I was Luna, I’d be shi……………. well you know how he would term it.

  8. Carlos
    September 4th, 2004 at 10:35 | #8

    Maybe we should make some money! Those are pretty good odds..
    The really good bet is: Labour here & Dems in the US.

    Also check:

    100,000 on Labor to win
    SMH Aug 30, 2004

    A SYDNEY businessman has wagered $100,000 on Labor to win the upcoming election – one of the biggest political bets in the nation’s history.

    He took odds of $2.35 with Darwin-based agency Sportingbet and stands to collect $235,000 if Mark Latham is elected prime minister.

    “We’ve had bigger bets for sport, but for an election bet you don’t usually see that sort of money around,” Sportingbet’s Michael Sullivan said.

    The Coalition remains the bookies’ favourite, but its odds have now drifted from $1.55 to $1.60 following the huge wager.

    “[Latham] has been very heavily supported,” Mr Sullivan said. “Labor was at $2.80 but after that bet we’ve turned it off. They are now into $2.20.”

  9. Lord Lucan
    September 7th, 2004 at 10:01 | #9

    Prediction: Howard gets beaten by Gillard, election 2010; Brit PM Blair smiles, as does US prez Clinton,H.
    Gillard inherits devastated economy.
    Something like WW3 imminent globally, meanwhile.
    Current election slogan: It’s The Greed, Stupid.

    Be seeing you

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