Saturday, November 24, 2007

Howard loses; Kevin Rudd the new Prime Minister

John Howard has lost his last political battle. The trend in the polls shows that Kevin Rudd will be the new Australian PM. Andrew Bolt who is a conservative Australian blogger, calls its for Rudd. We have the moment the election seemed decided memorialized at Tim Blair's. Howard has now has called Rudd and conceded.



Here's how the Australian political system functions, courtesy of one of Tim Blair's commenters, who explains things in a lucid fashion.

Some of the basics: We have a house of Reps, and a Senate, similar to the US model.

The leader of the party that has the majority in the Reps becomes Prime Minister and leads the administration.

The two main parties are the ALP, Australian Labor Party, similar to the AFL-CIO faction of the US Democrats, and the Liberal/National coalition, similar to the right wing faction of the US Democrats. The Greens are increasingly a 3rd force, and there are usually one or two independants, often the equivalent of the US Republicans.

Voting is compulsory, and always on a weekend.

The real difference is the preferential voting, where candidates are numbered in order of preference.

This means that I can vote for the two senate candidates of the Liberty and Democracy party as 1 and 2, knowing they haven’t got a hope, then 3 and 4 for the Liberals, and not have my vote wasted.

Parties recommend that preferences flow certain ways based on pre-election deals - “we put you number 2, and you return the favour” basically.

So if 3 out of 4 Greens preferences go to the ALP, the Greens get 80 votes, the ALP 300, the Libs 320, final result after “distribution of preferences” is ALP 300+60, Libs 320+20, giving victory to the ALP on preferences.

With all the complication of the vote counting, it can take a while for the final result to be known. Fortunately, we have some really, really good counting programs, it’s the data entry and checking that takes the time.

What this likely means for US-Australian relations is described in an anticipatory article by Peter Day at Pajamas Media. The mood among the Labor supporters pretty much resembles that of Pelosi's supporters after their Congressional win.

In the end, Howard's loss probably has to be put down to hubris. His margin over Labor and the Left was always much thinner than his oversized image seemed to indicate. His image was so oversized, in fact, that it probably kept a new generation of leaders from rising within his party. On the other hand, Labor ran through a succession of losers until they came to Rudd, who realized he had to run to the right of his predecessors. That cut away Howard's already thin cushion. I guess he thought the old magic would pull him through. But tonight, the magic deserted him. Howard will probably lose even his own seat of Bennelong to a celebrity Labor candidate.

Most readers can probably make a fair guess of what might happen next. The chances are we'll be looking at Kevin Rudd reprising Nancy Pelosi. The end of the Howard era may be a good thing in the end. Labor will ultimately provide the energy for its own downfall, as the Liberals (Howard's party) did theirs.

I've learned over time not to get too disappointed about anything. Looking back, I can remember the long fight against Marcos. So long it seemed it would never end. Most of us can still recall how dim things seemed only a few months ago, not only looking toward Iraq but pretty much everywhere. But that was then; and this is now.

So in a little bit I'm going to go and swill down a beer and think of old times. The guys who missed dodging that last raindrop. The day no one got off the bus. And as for old John Howard, well, he had a good run.

And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods.

28 Comments:

Blogger John Lynch said...

In paliamentary systems, all political careers end in failure.

11/24/2007 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger Edward Cropper said...

really informative article with an encouraging air.

11/24/2007 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

At the very least you have give Mr. Rudd's credit for having such a great first name. Let's face it, the list of world leaders with the first name Kevin is pretty damn short.

11/24/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Of course, Wretchard, you are much closer to the action, and I bow to your personal viewpoint.

However, from here I don't see this as being that big of a deal. Howard has been a wonderful ally (as has most of Australia), but he's been in office for a LONG time, and there's a natural human yearning for change and a sense of boredom after ANYone has been in place for a long time. Look at how the Brits were ready to toss Queen Elizabeth over during her Horrible Year.

Of course the liberals will celebrate what they see as a defeat of a personal dragon, but in terms of actual change, will there be any? As we have seen with Pelosi, et al, and *their* victory, probably not.

I think the Aussies have pretty much quietly already pulled out of Iraq, and I'm not sure if they're still present in Afghanistan or not. That's alright -- they were there when we needed them, and if they want to pull back and be Sheriff of their part of the world, that's fine.

I think Kyoto is stupid, and would anticipate there'll be a lot of public discussion and blather about it in Canberra ... and then nothing will happen.

The important thing is that the Aussies have their Muslims publicly warned and firmly in their sights. I do not see the same sort of waffling, weaseling and placating going on in Australia as we see in Londonistan and the rest of Yurp, and it's hard to image that Australia would ever allow itself to sink to those depths of degradation and desperation.

I read a headline somewhere yesterday that no matter who won this election, the loony left in Australia would have lost, because both Rudd and Howard are considered to be what we Americans think of as conservative. I see this election as just an electorate bored with its old party and leader, and anxious to try on a new outfit so it can feel fashionable again - but NOT too daring of a new outfit and certainly nothing along the hippy weirdo freak line.

11/24/2007 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

From a selfish POV, USA has just taken a pretty stiff Asia/Pacific hit. Alas.

11/24/2007 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Oh, Wretchard...I am so sorry.

One of the things I love about you, though, is that you can always find the silver lining, no matter how thin it is, no matter how occluded by loss.

So one front is passing, and another gains ascendancy...just like weather.

If you did not have the long vision that you acquired during the Marcos hell, you would not have the wisdom of patience that is such a part of your writing and thinking -- actually part of your character by now.

I am in mourning for Australia, though I think the system there is more resilient than the one in America. I wish we had a way to vote for one from column A and one from column B. How much more depth it has.

Who is the poet you quote at the end? That quatrain made me a little teary...it's bouncing about in my brain.

11/24/2007 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

BTW, there is good Danish news...I'll pass it on as soon as our translator returns it.

I'm going to blog on it as a solace for Australia's loss. The Anglosphere is so important...and in a way, Denmark is sooo Anglo. It must have been their invasions of England -- back before there was an England -- that helped form the Anglo character. This is what makes the northern part of the island so different from the south.

11/24/2007 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

The quote is Thomas B. Macaulay.


I was amused to read that one of the first things Rudd's government will do is sign the Kyoto Accord. As the AP puts it Rudd has named global warming as his top priority, and his signing of the Kyoto Protocol will leave the U.S. as the only industrialized country not to have joined it. 'Cuz, y'know, those wogs in China and India ain't industrialized. What a hoot!

The Aussies have 500 troops in Iraq now. And 3 Aussies have died in Afghanistan in the last 2 months.

Sorry to see Howard go, but 11 years is longer than any President we'll ever have. I heard recently that Oz' economy has been booming for years, and in such times, democratic societies tend to take liberal risks.

Hang in there, Wretchard. Here in USA, the Dems have pushed 61 votes to surrender since they were voted in, about one every five days, and they've lost them all. Having had the happy experience of spending a couple of years in Oz, I know my Aussie brethren are no more likely to surrender that US.

11/24/2007 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Thanks, Tony, for the link.

I also like your pov on this...

11/24/2007 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Thanks, Dymphna.

11/24/2007 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Signing Kyoto will only mean transferring Aussie jobs to China and India. So obviously Labor is not Labor, but the usual coalition of rich yuppies, the media, various Marxist-Aristos, and ethnic grievance groups.

Yes Wretchard I expect a backlash from lunatic actions.

11/24/2007 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

''So obviously Labor is not Labor, but the usual coalition of rich yuppies, the media, various Marxist-Aristos, and ethnic grievance groups''

So true it hurts.

11/24/2007 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Australia is the world’s leading coal exporter
... so how does signing the Kyoto Treaty help Australia, I wonder?

11/24/2007 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

A loss is an opportunity in ways a victory can never be. Everything is up for re-examination because there is nothing left to protect. And there are no direct means of protection afterward. Everything becomes about the "next time"; the aftermath of an election is the right time to save the best and ditch the worst. Of course, sometimes the reverse happens.

It is less than year to the 2008 elections. And the odds are -- if the polls mean anything -- that maybe Hillary Clinton will be in the White House. Anyone who thinks that can't happen isn't being realistic. It can happen. And a certain amount of soul-searching will happen subsequently.

A certain amount of renewal can happen in the meantime. And that's the way of the world. Evolve. Improve. Or die.

11/24/2007 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger demosophist said...

"The important thing is that the Aussies have their Muslims publicly warned and firmly in their sights."

I understand that in the right hands, and under certain conditions, those rubber band guns can be quite devastating.

11/25/2007 03:57:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/25/2007 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

If that does happen (President Hillary), I hope we Yanks can be as sagacious as Wretchard, but I expect I will have a feeling similar to the one I get when I stand in front of this painting at the Metropolitan in NYC: The Death of Socrates.

11/25/2007 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

I enjoyed "Rudd's" commentary... However, in his reference to Horatius from the Lays of Ancient Rome, with PM Howard gone, let's take it another step and ask as Horatius did... "Now who will stand on either hand and keep the bridge with me?"

11/25/2007 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/25/2007 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

I think the world's economy is about to take a major dump in the not too distant future. Unless driven by blind ambition, stupidity or extreme patriotism, why anyone would seek public office just before a major recession is a mystery to me.

The world's economy has done fairly well over the last five years. Australia in particular has done quite well selling primary products to China.

The Australians are ***Good Guys*** and I'm very happy to see them doing well.

It has been claimed that John Howard's success with the Australian economy was due more to China than through his own efforts. I suspect Kevin Rudd will have about as little control over the world's economy as John Howard. Unfortunately Kevin Rudd may find himself in the unenviable position of explaining why the Australian economy tanked on his watch.

Maybe(?) it's a good thing that the Labour Party won.

11/25/2007 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Tony said:

"Australia is the world’s leading coal exporter
... so how does signing the Kyoto Treaty help Australia, I wonder?"

Follow Tony's link and you'll see that the U.S. is exporting only a fraction of what Australia is exporting. This is despite the U.S. having more anthracite coal than anyone else on the planet along with the need to balance our international trade. We (the US) are keeping our coal as an energy fallback option and effectively not exporting it.

The Green "happy talk" that we'll convert directly to renewables after the petroleum peaks is nonsense. Our immediate future after Peak Oil will be nukes and coal as synthetic petroleum. Coal will bridge our economy from petroleum to some other form of sustainable energy source (lord knows what that is).

I suspect that our political and economic adversaries through the Global Warming argument would like to prevent our use of coal as an economic bridge. They're cutting off their nose to spite their face since their economies would also be damaged.

11/25/2007 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I think the world's economy is about to take a major dump in the not too distant future

By this, do you mean that China will implode, that the US sub-prime mortgage meltdown will spread to melt down more of the biggies not specifically involved in real estate, or something else?

And what effect will the ARabs ceasing to pin their riyals on the dollar have on anything, if it has any effect at all?

11/25/2007 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Egg,

Wasn't that like a 'secret' or something?

The coal thing I mean, and North America, the whole dealy-o, gotta gigantic bunch of everything, like God planned it almost?

Isn't that supposed to be a secret?

11/25/2007 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

I earlier said:

"I think the world's economy is about to take a major dump in the not too distant future."

Nahncee then said:

"By this, do you mean that China will implode, that the US sub-prime mortgage meltdown will spread to melt down more of the biggies not specifically involved in real estate, or something else? And what effect will the ARabs ceasing to pin their riyals on the dollar have on anything, if it has any effect at all?"

All of the above, i.e. we are on the tail end of a credit bubble popping compounded by the effects of Peak Oil.

There's a nasty thing that young boys do that they're embarrassed to admit about later. They catch a fly, cut its head off with a razor blade and then watch the fly run around with no head (the fly can do that for many minutes afterwards).

The American economy is currently like that fly with its head cut off. All that's keeping us going is economic inertia and denial.

It's going to be a bad recession. Maybe the worst one we've every had. What makes it even worse is that Hillary maybe president when we hit bottom (couldn't happen to a nicer gal).

11/25/2007 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Tony said...

"Wasn't that like a 'secret' or something? The coal thing I mean, and North America, the whole dealy-o, gotta gigantic bunch of everything, like God planned it almost?"

Not much of a secret. Refer to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal

Our economic future (after Peak Oil) will be based upon coal and nukes. The windmills and photovolatics are merely playthings for the greenies and moonbats (economically insignificant).

Australia would be wise to get a nuclear industy (manufacturing reactors, etc.) up and running as soon as possible. Oz should get away from simply exporting nonrenewable primary products (no future in that).

11/25/2007 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Hadn't you heard? War is good for the economy. Since we're already at war, all we have to do is expand it a little to hire more soldiers, make more bullets, drop more bombs.

However, if we want to go into a recession enough to finally bankrupt the newspapers and movie studios, that would be a good patriotic thing to have happen in a time of war and economic downturn.

My parents were children of the Depression. I *never* want to see such defeatism and fear of the future again. I don't understand the Depression or the effect it had on people. But I do know that WW2 put an end to it.

11/25/2007 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

NahnCee said:

"My parents were children of the Depression. I *never* want to see such defeatism and fear of the future again."

My grandfather had to raise a family during the Depression. Grandpa had the intelligence and ambition to be a physician. However to feed his family, he had to work in a slaughter house and pluck chickens. He was lucky. He had a job...

11/25/2007 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

It was my understanding that then Vice-President Albert Gore, Junior, affixed his signature to the Kyoto Accords AFTER the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly to reject the agreement --- i.e., a 95-0 vote passing Senate Resolution 98, the so-called "Byrd-Hagel" Resolution. The sense of that resolution was that the United States should not be signatory to any treaty which did not apply quotas and timeline requirements equally to both developing and fully industrialized countries.

President William Jefferson Clinton never bothered sending the final Kyoto draft to the Senate for a ratification vote. This means, because of the autograph of the lately-ennobled Gore, that the U.S. is in fact SIGNATORY to the treaty, but has not RATIFIED it.

It is good to keep in mind that not a single Democratic Party Senator was willing to vote FOR the acceptance of the Kyoto treaty, whatever they might be claiming a decade later.

11/30/2007 09:48:00 PM  

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