Axver (axver) wrote,

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And you thought George Bush was unpopular?

So, Brendan Nelson, leader of the Opposition here in Australia, has an approval rating of 9%. Nine per cent. I'm not kidding! He is the least popular Opposition leader ever, or at least since polls began in 1987. We're missing 86 years of Opposition leaders there, though I doubt many could reasonably challenge Nelson for that shocking figure. Rudd has a 61% gap opened up over him, with a soaring 70% approval rating as Prime Minister. The Liberal Party is in complete disarray. They only just elected Nelson as their new, post-Howard leader in late November last year, and I can imagine Malcolm Turnbull and his supporters are already manoeuvring in the back rooms to oust him.

I have to wonder where the Liberal Party is going to go from here. The fact that Rudd is basking in a popular perception that he is delivering on his election promises, and promptly too, is something that the Liberals are going to find extremely hard to combat. Furthermore, Rudd is almost immune from fallout on economic issues such as rising interest rates, at least for the immediate future, because that can all be pinned on the Howard legacy. Only after a couple of years in office will he really be held accountable, and there isn't much the Liberals can do until then. They can scream and shout and pin everything on Rudd as much as they like, but that's no good when the popular perception is that they're the party who created the issues in the first place! And, at the end of the day, Nelson has the charisma of a tomato. Rudd is seen as vibrant and active, willing to get things done. Nelson? Nobody fucking likes him! Even the vast majority of the 36% of Australians who'd vote Liberal right now don't like him!

The Liberal Party probably don't know what to do with themselves. They've been in power for eleven years, led by Australia's second longest serving Prime Minister. Suddenly, they're being drowned by a wave of unpopularity that they probably didn't even expect and that confuses and bewilders them. John Howard wanted to leave a legacy, but I doubt this is quite what he had in mind. It would have been better for the Liberals had they lost in 2004. Now where? They're doing nothing to help themselves by cultivating a perception of backflipping. They can't seem to find a stable position on workplace laws, and Nelson's pathetic speech at the national apology tried to be everything to everybody but in the end was absolutely nothing; it didn't go nearly far enough for the urban middle and upper classes who supported the move, while any agreement whatsoever with the apology was far too much for the social conservatives and rural constituency who wanted nothing to do with an apology. Just look at the behaviour of Wilson Tuckey, who made a scene in his refusal to acknowledge the apology.

It makes you wonder what will come of the Coalition. Prior to the election, there was talk of the Liberals simply absorbing the Nationals, but since the election disaster, the differences and disagreements have come out. Now, I don't expect the Coalition will collapse, but I can't help thinking about it. It would gift Labour a lengthy time in power, as the Nationals' declining support base is causing them to sink into irrelevance while the Liberals would struggle to pull together the numbers to form government in the lower house, while in the upper house they would be completely screwed without the support of the Nationals, especially as the Greens are on the rise and likely to hold the balance of power anyway.

Though I remember when I lived up in Queensland; the state-level coalition between the Liberals and Nationals collapsed, and Labour won the 2006 election not by popularity but by default. I suppose there's something to be said for having a very competitive political system that keeps everyone on their toes. I can only desire that Australia may one day shift to the two dominant parties being the Greens and Labour. Hell, in some Labour-held seats, the Greens are already outpolling the Liberals and constitute the second party. I'd like that to spread. I'd like it a lot. I could really believe in a Greens-vs-Labour two party system as one that has competition without the risk of fucking over the least fortunate, those towards whom the government has a duty of care. It's a pipe dream, I know, but it's one I enjoy.
Tags: alp, australian politics, brendan nelson, epic fail, greens, kevin rudd, labour party, liberal party, politics

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