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Electioneering in Oz

To an amateur psephologist, like for instance me, aught-seven is an interesting year. As we speak there's a democratic disturbance in the world's newest republic. From this distance, and with the level of ignorance I have in Timorese history, it's a lesson in how difficult it is to establish a democracy, even when the people are willing. Next week there is the muddied water of Sarko v Sego, a much-anticipated clash you'd be a brave one to call. Numerous upstarts threaten to steal the thunder of one or the other.

Against all this is the pop and crackle of next year's US presidential primaries, sounding much louder this time than in aught-three, not least because there's twice as many of them. I'm on firmer ground in my knowledge of these running battles than East Timor or France, but the pace of change and paucity of empirical data here still leaves me dizzy. I wonder whether by early next year McCain will even be in the running -- his latest misadventures in an Iraqi marketplace reinforcing the impression that this septagenarian has lost his bead on sound political judgement. Plus he's a creationist homophobe all of a sudden. On the blue side it's all about Hilary and Obama, or so it seems from 16696km away. However, don't discount John Edwards' ability to split the middle. People will start to whisper that he could carry the South. I suspect it won't be Hilary v Obama by next March.

But what I'm following closest is this year's Australian federal election, presumably to be held in October. It's eleven years since Howard and his cohorts came to power. In that time, and especially since the start of his second term, his government has piled ignominies upon those of us who want this nation to be an independent citizen of the world, a real middle power, not just respecting basic principles of human rights, but upholding and proselytising them. Now, for the first time, there seems to be a mood in the bunker to be rid of him. Or is it the first time? In April 2001, Bomber Beazley was a shoo-in. And do we really want to dethrone him? Well I do, but across the 20 million of us there may be a different story. This graph tells a tale:

pollchart-newspoll-tpp-comparative

Chart courtesy of OzPolitics.

If — and this 'if' is statistically improbable — that green line has its head above water in September, then we can contemplate donning the red shoes and singing ding dong, the witch is dead.

But even then a thought troubles me: if somehow we are celebrating the demise of the Wicked Witch of Bennelong in October, how many months further down the yellow brick road will we be pulling aside Rudd's curtain, to discover a man who can give this cowardly lion of a nation no heart?

Joseph | 12 Apr 2007

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