The global failures of the left this decade

It may be coincidence, but in almost all the countries we take a big interest in, the centre-right has been winning election after election. Let’s look at each of them:

  • Canada – Stephen Harper won in 2006, 2008 and 2011 – increasing his seats each time to go from minority to majority
  • New Zealand – John Key won in 2008, 2011 and 2014 – increasing his seats each time
  • UK – David Cameron won in 2010 and 2015, increasing his seats to go from minority to majority
  • Australia – Tony Abbott won in 2010
  • Germany – Angela Merkel won in 2005, 2009 and 2013 – increasing her seats each time to go from minority to majority
  • US – in 2014 Republicans got largest majority in House since 1929, the largest mid-term Senate gain since 1958, now hold 31 of the 50 Governorships and the highest number of state legislatures since 1928. The Democrats last held so few state legislatures in 1860. Only the presidency remains for them.
  • Israel – Bibi Netanyahu won in 2009, 2013 and 2015, increasing his majority in 2015
  • France – lost the presidency in 2012, but highly likely to regain in 2017 with polls showing Hollande in third place.

What is interesting isn’t just that so many countries have centre-right governments, but that in Canada, NZ, the UK, and Germany the incumbent Governments have increased their seats. It used to be the case that governments lose seats and oppositions win them. but no longer.

An interesting observation I saw about the UK election is that the last time won an election in the UK without Tony Blair was in 1974 – 41 years ago. The importance of this observation is not about who was leader, but how he positioned the party. Blair won as “New Labour” and he moved Labour towards the centre. Miliband moved it to the left and made income inequality the focus of his campaign, and lost.

Likewise in NZ Labour, since they lost office, have moved to the left of Helen Clark. Goff,  Shearer and Cunliffe all advocated old left policies – many of which were rejected by Helen Clark when she was PM. Will Little continue with the shift to the left, or try to compete in the centre?

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