There will be pundits in the US who might suggest that the survival of Australia’s conservative John Howard (actually with increased support) amounts to an endorsement by voters of Australia’s involvement in Iraq. I want to make it very clear that this Australian election was fought primarily on domestic issues. Maybe if Mark Latham and the Australian Labor Party had made more of an effort to remind voters of John Howard’s dishonesty over Iraq and the shameful children overboard affair, there would have been a different result. Maybe, but the Australian electorate is very reluctant to vote a party out of office, especially when the economy is doing well. John Howard ran a very effective campaign, side-stepping the truth in government concerns, scaring voters that interest rates would rise under Labor and using lots of negative campaigning about Mark Latham’s experience. I have never seen as many negative ads in an Australian election campaign. Another of Mark Latham’s mistakes is that he didn’t do anything to counter those ads until the last week of the campaign, which was too little, too late.
I plan to write even more about my reaction to the result in ambivalenz.