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The Last Liberal

November 25th, 2007

For once, my electoral predictions haven’t turned out too badly, so I’ll offer one more before we get back to policy: The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election.

This isn’t a prediction of unending Labor rule, rather an observation that the Liberal and National parties are in such dire straits that they can’t continue as they are. They haven’t got enough support, parliamentary representation or ideas for one party, let alone two.

The obvious option is a merger, but there may be other, more radical realignments in the wings. With no incumbent governments, there’s no real obstacle to a merger, except for entrenched interests in the party machines. But, in many ways, it would be better for the conservatives to start a completely new party, leaving their toxic existing structures to collapse.

I’d welcome this. Governments need to be kept in check. That requires an effective opposition, and a serious prospect of losing office. We’re already feeling the lack of this at the state level.

Update Apparently, Peter Costello agrees.

Further update Some commenters have objected that this is too strong a call to make on the basis of one 53-47 election. But of course that’s only part of it. The picture at the State level is far worse. The conservatives haven’t won a state or territory election this century, and have suffered landslide defeats at the hands of Labor governments, some of which have been mediocre at best. Of course, things could go badly wrong for Rudd or for one of the state governments. But if they don’t, it’s hard to see the Libs getting back in anywhere before the next NSW election due in 2011, and that depends on the most dysfunctional party organisation in the country getting its act together.

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  1. November 25th, 2007 at 22:00 | #1

    A know a lot of people under 25 who voted liberal. Generally the ones who have jobs that earn more than minimum wage. Or pretty much everyone in Western Australia.

  2. Katz
    November 25th, 2007 at 22:09 | #2

    I guess none of those folks live in Hasluck, Yobbo.

  3. November 25th, 2007 at 22:29 | #3

    I am relieved to shed the title of candidate and apply my thoughts to what we have all just experienced. It has been a very bad example of presidential-style campaigning with all the attendant weaknesses. Autocratic leadership styles reward psychopathic behaviour and create timid and muzzled followers who are incapable of critiquing the errors of the ‘Sun King’. No one could actually tell John Howard that he was wrong, except John Valder, John Hewson and Malcolm Fraser and these former leaders were brusquely shrugged off like out-of-fashion clothes.

    The Liberals’ made unsustainable assertions that they have an inherent right to rule, hence their pathetic argument that the opposition has no experience and never will. Their deference to the autocratic leadership style of John Howard or someone like him is a weakness – not a strength. Liberals willed John Howard to lead them and be everything for them, to sin for them, to torture and kill for them and they found out too late that the old schemer was only in politics for his own benefit.

    We now know that there was no Liberal succession plan and why there is now no successor. Peter Costello has correctly assessed that he cannot hold it together for long enough because no one ever wanted him for the leadership position, not the Liberals and certainly not the electorate. Besides, all his bluster about the good of the country and his experience is now threadbare in the face of better offers from the private sector.

    Paul2 observes, “I see the conservatives on this blog are doing their best to rain on Rudd’s victory parade, with their talk of a very short honeymoon indeed�. But I would predict now that those who expect a short honeymoon for Kevin Rudd are dead right. He is too much like John Howard and Labor people know it. He was useful in getting them into office, but there are lots of Labor people who are very angry with ‘Work Choices Lite’ and they will let him know what they think. “The [Labor] supporters who have been clinging to the hope that Rudd-in-office will be a very different animal to Rudd-in-opposition may well become quite feral once they realise they’ve been dudded�, Ken Lovell is right here.

    Being a Greens candidate is not easy when the major party opponents refused to engage in serious debate. I found Terry Costello’s comment, “the ALP stands for Another Liberal Party� all too chillingly real. As anon depressed Liberal says, “ the right factions of the ALP will continue to court big business and other elements of the Liberal base�.

    The new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and his Liberal challenger, ‘Councillor’ Craig Thomas, both thought that there were no votes for them if they fronted a politics in the pub session and had to respond to my argument that neither was prepared to deal effectively with global warming. The Liberal candidate depicted his “environmental concerns� as “keeping our waterways (read storm water drains) clean�. These people effectively vacated the stage where the real debate was to be had – and they got away with it.

    Ken Lovell correctly says, “The Liberals have no forum anywhere to maintain the illusion of relevance�. I would maintain that this predicament is of their own making. They had nothing new, relevant or constructive to say. We have just had a very expensive election that was about nothing when really important issues were ignored. It was a contest to see who could present the ‘smallest target’ based on deception and vote buying. The really urgent task of dealing with global warming will be attended to in a piecemeal manner at the politically expedient whim of the Rudd government, if at all. It needs to be front and centre of everything else they do – and it isn’t.

    In politics contingencies for the unexpected should always be factored in. If, as predicted, the effects of global warming are “abrupt and irreversible�, be ready for political necessity. So, comments like “Their main problem will be that the other serious opposition to Labor will be the Greens, with whom any kind of alliance is unthinkable� are a sign of failure of the imagination. As Senator Bob Brown said last night, Labor and Liberals need to learn to discuss issues like the pulp mill, rather than simply refuse to negotiate.

    Melanie commented, “The Greens have really consolidated their position as the third largest party vote-wise and Labor got in on their preferences, so that will make for some interesting politics down the track. Interesting that twice now they have almost pushed the Libs into third place in Melbourne�. In other words, if the major parties wish to be relevant they will need to learn new skills and start with a more consultative consensus-seeking leadership�. We are in new territory folks!

    Willy Bach
    http://getthelaborialstotellthetruth.blogspot.com/

  4. Alexander McLeay
    November 25th, 2007 at 23:26 | #4

    Al, your post reads like an American describing America as not a democracy, but as a republic. This fundamentally misunderstand what that sentence truly means, for by it, then Australia is too as republican as America. In this sense, “republic” is not being opposed with “monarchy”, but instead with “mob-rule” and “autocracy”.

    The word “republic” and one stage meant primarily a system which obtained good government by balancing the needs of the different classes: of the commoners, of the nobility, of the king. From there it developed to meaning something more like “responsible government”, and as The Age rightly editorialised in the 1850s, by obtaining our own Parliament, Victoria was now a republic.

    Americans are taught that the United States is a republic not a democracy because at the time of the American Revolution, “democracy” meant “mob-rule” or “anarchy”. It wasn’t a particularly good name to be associated with, so Americans rejected. Over the years, as the United Kingdom has obtained a more and more democratic structure “democracy” came to mean exactly what we know it to mean — a system which obtains good government by consulting the people periodically. Likewise, “republic” has been associated by non-monarchical republics like the United States and Switzerland, more than monarchical republics like the United Kingdom, Victoria and Australia.

    So you are wrong: you want to say “The Greens didn’t get proportional representation because we live in a republic (not a democracy)”. But this is also wrong, because we live in a democracy by today’s meaning of the word; and you are also wrong, because all countries with proportional representation are democracies; and you are also wrong, because if we lived we had direct democracy, then why would the Greens get any representation in a Parliament which would presumably either serve no purpose or consist of all eligible people?

  5. November 25th, 2007 at 23:32 | #5

    I just realised one incredibly important impact of this election – something that we probably, and thankfully, won’t hear too much about, because rather than being a beneficial act in itself, it is instead the omission of an sinful act.

    We will not be seeing any moves towards the introduction of nuclear power in Australia for the next three years at least.

    Thank God.

  6. November 25th, 2007 at 23:32 | #6

    Uranium mining is another story. I hope the states hold strong on that one.

  7. Matt Canavan
    November 26th, 2007 at 00:47 | #7

    Poor post John. You do not provide much evidence. The Coalition got a primary vote only a few points off the Labor party. (And higher than the labor party’s in 04.)

    Further, the ‘labor’ party that has been elected is lead by a bloke that is basically conservative, or at least an economic rationalist. The only way the libs won’t get back in is if labor continue to successfully co-opt their agenda. In that case, we’ll have a liberal government in all but name anyway.

  8. Michael Bamford
    November 26th, 2007 at 06:48 | #8

    Matt Canavan and I have the same viewpoint. Kevin Rudd is as much a Wet Liberal as a Labor Right. He’s probably the best liberal prime minister successor after John Howard, but time will tell. His insistence that he select his own cabinet is very heartening and means he will promote the best for his team, rather than deal with socialist mediocrity.

  9. 2 tanners
    November 26th, 2007 at 07:53 | #9

    It was a landslide in seats, but hardly in votes. Incumbency should make it easy enough to hold on for this and the next term, but surely Rudd’s game plan is to push right. The left wing consitutency (which i believe is becoming smaller all the time) will have little option but to either sigh and vote Labor as the lesser of two credible evils or vote Green. The Greens can then pass their carefully garnered votes straight to Labor, due a stupid deal like the Democrats or with breathtaking hypocrisy, preference the far right parties in order to seize some lower house seats.

    LNP will be back, probably in the same circumstances as today. They will present a small target me-too campaign against an obviously tired Government and attempt to seize the high ground on a couple of mistaken/unpopular policies. And, ironically, they will move to the left a bit, to reclaim the centre.

    Hawke and Howard both knew that the key to winning Government was to find and claim the centre. Rudd does too, but they all lose their way after a while.

  10. brian
    November 26th, 2007 at 08:01 | #10

    Naomi Kleins Shock Doctrine is interesting esp because it links the Tiannamen square massacre to re-emerging capitalism in china…

  11. Katz
    November 26th, 2007 at 08:20 | #11

    Further, the ‘labor’ party that has been elected is lead by a bloke that is basically conservative, or at least an economic rationalist. The only way the libs won’t get back in is if labor continue to successfully co-opt their agenda. In that case, we’ll have a liberal government in all but name anyway.

    In no way does this contradict JQ’s initial point. JQ’s point was about the future of a political organisation, not about the future of a set of policies.

    The Liberal Party, as it is now constituted, carries much baggage that prevents it from fighting effectively for the middle ground, which the Rudd-led ALP grabbed so securely on 24 Nov 2007.

    JQ’s point, as I read it, is that a party will rise in opposition to a Rudd-style ALP, but it will not be the Liberal Party as we know it today.

    In short, the Libs must divest themselves of their right-wing baggage before they can again compete on equal terms for the sympathy of the middle ground.

  12. Mark
    November 26th, 2007 at 08:42 | #12

    I make a couple of observations.

    The 2PP vote is what – 47/53 against the Coalition? I would not be writing off the libs on that basis. The primary vote is not a lot different between the 2 parties?

    Consider what might happen under a social progressive lib leader who is strong on environmental issues. Look out for Malcolm.

  13. snuh
    November 26th, 2007 at 08:42 | #13

    The usual pattern is for opposition parties to tear themselves apart and go through a string of leaders before they manage a comeback. Maybe Malcolm Turnbull will end up as their David Cameron?

    it seems to me costello’s announcement was about positioning himself as the eventual liberal savior/uniter, once the party has torn itself apart. he’s being very vague about what his future plans are.

  14. November 26th, 2007 at 08:51 | #14

    Given the mountain of public funding that the Liberals just pulled in (ie $2 per lower house vote and $2 per senate vote) they are not going to disappear any time soon. The idea that they should start a new party and leave all this money in the old entity is folly. As is the idea that taxpayers should be paying for any of the political parties in the first place.

  15. Katz
    November 26th, 2007 at 08:57 | #15

    Consider what might happen under a social progressive lib leader who is strong on environmental issues. Look out for Malcolm.

    Turnbull hasn’t won the contest yet. The Parliamentary Liberal Party is now full of social conservatives. Howard saw to that. Their natural candidate would be Abbott.

    Even if Turnbull does win the leadership, the political machine in NSW is run by Right Wing loonies. It’s take years to hoick them out of their spider holes.

    And as a political infighter Turnbull is utterly untested. Cleaning out ruthless and wily political infighters is much more difficult than persuading a judge in the dignified setting of a court of law.

  16. gordon
    November 26th, 2007 at 09:55 | #16

    Willy Bach, I voted Green and second-preferenced Labor in the Senate, which makes me a fairly typical Greens voter. Now that the election is over, I can say that I thought the Green policy platform distinctly sketchy on economic and industry policy (on the Greens website, anyway), and that my support was strategic and based mostly on my views about the major parties. I suspect I am not alone in this attitude. If the Greens want to develop as a real “third force” in Australian politics, they must work harder on traditional policy issues like the economy, industry policy, health, education, foreign affairs/defence and industrial relations. One would expect to see an emphasis on sustainability in Green policy on all these topics, which would be fine with me, but the Greens still lack an integrated and well-developed set of policies on these important National issues. Poking holes in LNP or ALP policies in order to garner a protest vote is no longer enough; nor is a single-issue “global warming” campaign.

  17. James Haughton
    November 26th, 2007 at 10:16 | #17

    With reference to Gordon’s comment (66): I would love to see the Greens adopt an “ecocapitalist” kind of program that matched the tax cuts offered by the majors by replacing them with emission, pollution, land use and waste taxes (permits, cap and trades, whatever). It would shake up the economy a lot and need some kind of reorganisation of welfare (due to the resulting rise in utility bills) but place Aus in a very strong position in the long run, as well as reducing all the negative externalities (like pollution) that have big but seemingly unrecognised impacts on our national health and welfare budgets.

    With ref to Mark’s comment (62), it’s probably a bit of a pipe dream but I could also see such a program pulling in support from the Petro Georgios and Malcolm Turnbulls of the (former?) Liberal party. Eco-capitalism is a distinctly under-explored policy option due to the left’s dominance of environmental issues, but the success of things like the sulphur dioxide permits scheme in reducing acid rain in america or the booming markets in carbon permits and offsets shows that it works quite well.

  18. gerard
    November 26th, 2007 at 11:16 | #18

    Turnbull will have a rough and rocky time getting support from the far-Right nutters that dominate the Liberals base these days, if this article from two years ago is anything to go by.

    http://www.themonthly.com.au/tm/node/46

    Young Libs in the Chocolate Factory

    Tomorrow’s Liberal leaders have issues with gays, greenies, young mums, Malcolm Fraser – and each other

  19. Peter
    November 26th, 2007 at 11:32 | #19

    Sam & John,

    It is not only the number of publication that counts, but the quality of publication is also important.

    Mehta has much better quality of publication than Jie Zhang, Prasada Rao, and Flavio Menezes. I agree that Quiggin and Tourky have equal or better quality of publication compared to Mehta. Except Mehta, none of the above mentioned people(Quiggin has a few high quality publications in AER and JET) have a publication in Econometrica.

    I am not saying that John Foster does not deserve to be a Professor. What I am saying that there is no reason why Mehta should not be a Professor given his publication record. And if he were an Anglo then I am almost sure that he would have been a Professor by now. There are many such cases in Australia, one just have to open ones eye to see such discrimination all over Australia.

  20. rossco
    November 26th, 2007 at 11:36 | #20

    I will be interested to see whether the Liberals continue to benefit from big donations from business, wealthy individuals and employer organisations. I assume that when such donations are made there is an expectation there will be some return in the future. With the Libs likely to be out of office in Canberra for at least 2 terms, and little prospect of winning office in any State in the immediate future, the money may flow to Labor.

    The big business advertising on WorkChoices was just money down the drain so I don’t expect that exercise to be repeated any time soon. Likewise with the Farmers Federation advertising.

    Also, not being in office anywhere, there is no opportunity to run expensive publicly funded propaganda campaigns, sorry I meant public information campaigns.

    Without big bucks in the kitty any political party will struggle to afford staff, research and advertising. I wonder how much it really costs the major parties to function between elections and to run their election campaigns.

    I expect internal frictions to cripple the Liberal party in the immediate future but the lack of big money may be what prevents it being an effective power for a long period.

  21. Spider
    November 26th, 2007 at 13:01 | #21

    There needs to a complete restructure of all political parties as the people will sooner or later have to wake up to mainstream politics having departed from representing their interests.

    The left wing of Labor will one day have to stand up for themselves and depart from the ALP and join up with a true Socialist political party such as the Greens. This will increase the strength of the Greens and make them a real electoral threat.

    Right wing Labor in many of those in the Liberals are very similar to each other. People such as former NSW Liberal leader, John Brodgen are further to the left than most of the right faction of the ALP. It is group and across to the Howardites that the people will in the end, abandon through desperation.

    The right wing side of politics will be replaced by Nationalist politics who will be THE rival to the Greens. As the Greens continue to push policy that pulls the country down such as indiscriminate immigration, an open drugs policy, etc, the people who be forced into supporting the Nationalists who will be a mixed bunch of soft Nationalists and fascists and National Socialists.

  22. The Doctor
    November 26th, 2007 at 17:12 | #22

    Al,
    the best description of Australia’s political system in two words is ‘crowned republic’.

  23. Herbert Stock
    November 26th, 2007 at 17:52 | #23

    A merger of the Liberals and Nationals (Country Party) is unlikely because they represent two entirely different constituencies – the former now represent comfortable, well off suburbanites found in seats such as those in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne who demand small government and self-reliance while the Nationals now represent rural communities whose very survival depends on significant, ongoing government intervention and support. The artificial coalition of the last decade which was shored up by the support of conservative working families (now fled back to Labor) will break down and the conservative side of politics will again have two parties seeking different outcomes.

  24. Sir Henry Caqsingbroke
    November 26th, 2007 at 21:30 | #24

    You underestimate Turnbull’s obsessive tenacity. He is like Rudd except he enjoys a good cigar and Krug at the same time. Nelson is a walk-up start amateur and none too bright. Not fats off the mark. In any case, I suspect Nelson is a stalking horse. The real contender that hasn’t revealed her hand yet is Julie Bishop. She is a player and a patient one at that, as she builds her power base.

    Abbott does not have the numbers, except in NSW. All he is likely to achieve is to split the party. They know it.

    Anyway, I don’t care. They can elect Bronwyn.

  25. Derek Sheppard
    November 26th, 2007 at 23:40 | #25

    The one thing that stands out most at this election, and in previous elections at State and federal levels, is that Australians want balance.

    The people regarded the Coalition’s coincidental control of the House of Reps and the balance of power in the Senate as an anathema. More and better could have been done with those majorities, but the Coalition failed to use it to best advantage, helping me to believe it also threw them off balance.

    The other issue that was clear was that what was made of Work Choices along with the inability of some people to make Work Choices work the best way for both employees and employers was unsettling.

    It seems that many Australians are still not ready, just yet, for a proper enterprise based country. They prefer to have someone watching over their shoulder, monitoring whether they can come to sound employment arrangements and agreements with employers. It seems that some employers still don’t get it that underpaying or devaluing the labour of employees does themselves a disservice. It seems that many people want some form of protection in case they get things wrong, they need someone else to take responsibility lest they fail. In other words, many Australians are still risk averse, and that led to the Coalition’s downfall. Almost like Labor governments, the Coalition was also reluctant to take too much risk – probably because there weren’t enough free enterprise business people and too many lawyers in the Liberal Party.

    If Labor does what it has in Queensland, then it will influence school curricula with its politics, ensuring that Labor is re-elected. I have a sense that PM elect Rudd won’t do that. I sincerely hope, in fact, that he addresses the problems of entrenched bureaucracies to make them more responsive. He failed with reforms in education in Queensland, I understand, because the same bureaucrats remained or were shuffled through the Education Dept in defiance of the need for reform.

    There are many ways and new ground that the Liberals can adopt in order to move the centre of gravity in Australian politics away from the conservative place that PM elect Rudd has taken Labor to occupy.

    Liberals and coalitions can now work harder, ensure the right people are in leadership in the States, expose the many obvious flaws and failings of State labor Governments, and take and win government at the next State elections. That will then ensure that the new imbalance in Australian politics will be redressed. Alternatively, perhaps with some work, refining of policies, creating a presence and commentary, and better presentation, the Liberty and Democracy Party can rise up and fill the void.

  26. GrumpyPedant
    November 26th, 2007 at 23:43 | #26

    …while there is always the need for elections, just to keep the bastard’s honest so to speak, there is no chance of real debate and therefore no need of a parliament until we get real representation.

    Now the ALP has thrown in it’s lot with the forgetable people, there is no longer any party to represent workers.

    Since the LNP decided to chase everyone with an attenion span of less than 20 seconds there no one left to represent small business, or big business for that matter, ..well no one to admit to it.

    With the demise of the DLP; fundamentalist catholics are all but forgotten, and the more embarrased religions have no voice at all, …except the extreme ones.

    Only the Greens come close to having a constituency;

    One of the dinosaur parties is dead, the other is having it’s last hurrah – or at least I hope so.

    On the day we have 15 parties in Parliament, really debating, really representing someone, then and only then will we be close to a democracy.

  27. David Cake
    November 27th, 2007 at 01:20 | #27

    I don’t think its a foregone conclusion yet, but I think jq’s suggestion isn’t too unlikely. If the social conservative wing continues to maintain solid control over the federal party, the economically focussed less conservative wing may well rebel at being rendered unelectable for causes they don’t believe in.

    And in most states and now Federally, its hard to see much chance of the Liberals gaining power within one term, or even two, continuing as they are.

  28. Ian Redpath
    November 27th, 2007 at 13:06 | #28

    “On the day we have 15 parties in Parliament, really debating, really representing someone, then and only then will we be close to a democracy.”

    I wondered at this on election day whilst handing out how-to-votes. Aside from the Liberals, there were several well represented groups advocating progressive change (7 or 8 Your Rights @ Work with their two sided Green or Labor pamphlet, 4 GetUps with an all parties but vote-for-change summary, 2 Greens, 3 or 4 Labor, and 2 BigSwitch on climate change)(and of course a lonely Democrat). We were all using the same lines as we handed out things, and it seemed we were all advocating much the same things. There were the Liberals, and there was everyone else. But I wondered if one day there would be a new political base for the Unions, a unified environmental party, the conservative party for the aging Liberals, a centre right ALP, a frustrated ALP left(out) party, and so on, and that we would all be handing out leaflets for different parties with similar issues, but different degrees of intensity.

    As to the debate about the Liberals making a comeback, it’s hard to see where they will muster the resource base when they are out of power in all states and donations dry up. If they can maintain the illusion that they are the Opposition they will get some airtime. If the real opposition is Greens and progressive groups pushing for stronger action on their issues, then the Libs haven’t a prayer.

  29. Ian Gould
    November 27th, 2007 at 23:58 | #29

    Anyone who thinks proportonate representation is a political panacea needs to look at Israel or Switzerland.

    Israel alternated between periods of corruption and stagnation when smaller parties such as Shas used their leverage to get special deals and periods of “Grand coalition” when the two largest parties got together and agreed on common platform of staggering banality.

    Eventually the electorate, in sheer disgust, handed Kadima a political majority which the proceeded to squander on the Lebanon war.

    In Switzerland, the five major parties form a coalition in which all are presented in government, the result is glacial change. Rather than an election meaning one party emerges with a majority, it means one part emerges with 25% of the vote and gets an extra ministry.

  30. Jack Strocchi
    September 7th, 2008 at 09:03 | #30

    Pr Q says:

    Some commenters have objected that this is too strong a call to make on the basis of one 53-47 election. But of course that’s only part of it. The picture at the State level is far worse. The conservatives haven’t won a state or territory election this century, and have suffered landslide defeats at the hands of Labor governments, some of which have been mediocre at best.

    Of course, things could go badly wrong for Rudd or for one of the state governments. But if they don’t, it’s hard to see the Libs getting back in anywhere before the next NSW election due in 2011, and that depends on the most dysfunctional party organisation in the country getting its act together.

    THe 2007 fed election was 52.5-47.5. I called it to within 0.5% so I should know.

    I am amazed at the nonsense talk about this being a “landslide victory” (Tim Lambert). It was a middling victory by post-war standards. Rudd called it a “small” margin.

    I was even more amaxed at the “End of the Liberal Party” meme silliness that was circulating after the last federal election. Does anyone remember the electoral pendulum? It always swings back and forth, especially when the phase of its cycle was all one-sided, as it was in 2007.

    Pr Q left his thesis some wiggle room with the subjunctive “things could go badly wrong for Rudd or for one of the state governments.” On my reckoning the LP have done nothing but come back strongly in all elections both state and federal since Ruddo-mania peaked in early 2008.

    They have won big swings in NT, federal by-elections and now WA. They have also put the knife into the ALP in NSW by opposing electricity privatisation.

    The LP is always going going to be the Natural Party of Opposition in state government due to secular changes in the economy. Community services such as health and education are superior goods. They are also best delivered by political authorities. It is natural to have the ALP – a statist party – administer the expanding state apparatus.

    So there will be a natural pro-ALP electoral bias in state elections. Particularly as the electorate’s geographical density and ethnological diversity increases.

    But the inexorable statist tendency sets up the danger of ALP cronyism and corruption, most evident in NSW but also in WA (Brian Burke). So the LP can always make a decent living off public dissastisfaction with ALP political dis-eases and mis-management.

    The L/NP will continue to survive in more or less its present form at the federal level. This is because its conservative “corporalist” position on cultural identity is tending to become more, not less, popular with the mainstream electorate.

    It may well be that the NP will merge with the LP. But this will be a sign of the relative weakness of the NP due to urbanization (eg QLD). It does not really prove that the LP is getting weaker. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    There are four more state elections to be held before the next NSW election in 2011. THese will be in QLD, SA, TAS and VIC. The ALP is currently dominant in all four jurisdictions.

    Nevertheless I am willing to put $100 down that the L/NP in some shape or form will win one of these electaral contests before the decade is out. A neat merger b/w the partie counts as the Coalition by pretty much the same name. A UAP style implosion counts as a win to the Quiggin thesis.

  31. jquiggin
    September 7th, 2008 at 17:15 | #31

    Certainly, the results since this post favor some combination of pendulum and the deliberate state balance of power thesis. (Another point is that calling snap elections to take advantage of apparently favorable political circumstances is a silly idea).

    Still, I’d point out that, since this post the predicted merger has in fact occurred in Qld, and seems much more likely nationally.

  32. Jack Strocchi
    September 7th, 2008 at 19:05 | #32

    82. jquiggin Says: September 7th, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Still, I’d point out that, since this post the predicted merger has in fact occurred in Qld, and seems much more likely nationally.

    I will certainly pay the merger prediction. But there is less to this psephological reshuffle than meets the eye. There is no way that AUS’s right-wing major party is heading for another UAP meltdown. Not in PrQ’s wildest dreams.

    The AUS political economy, like its general economy, is and remains a locked-down two-horse race. Think Coles-Safeways, Telstra-Optus, the Big Four Banks etc.

    I doubt very much that the ALP would want a complete meltdown of the L/NP. The two parties have a nice cosy duopoly as it is. Why rock the boat?

    A LP-NP merger does not imply a weakened “LP brand” or “the Last Liberal”. Quite the opposite.

    It is more of an aquisition by the LP of the NP. The NP is in secular decline in rural and regional electorates owing to urbanization and uneconomic farming practices. As I read it the NP is losing seats to the LP or INDs.

    Also, the LP’s post-Howard cultural conservatism is much more like the NP’s and in tune with the right-wing social outlook of most regional and rural voters. Not to mention outer-surburbanites who are uninterested or unimpressed by fashionable inner-suburban cultural experiments.

    So a merger, if it happens more generally, will simply be a sympathetic takeover of the NP by the LP.

  33. Tony G
    October 19th, 2008 at 10:21 | #33

    “The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election”. What a load of rubbish.

    One of the biggest swings against Labour in history, If I was Rudd and I saw a 1/3 of the Australian population gunning for Labour I’d be scared.

    This post should be called can only “Last one term Labour”.

  34. jquiggin
    October 19th, 2008 at 17:36 | #34

    Maybe you should re-read the post, and the recent comments, Tony. The merger between Liberals and Nationals it predicts has already taken place in Queensland, and will almost certainly happen nationally.

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