Tuesday, June 01, 2004

How the allies are faring 

The left seems to wet its pants with joy at the prospect of voters in the Coalition of the Willing countries punishing their governments at the polls for their support of the United States and involvement in the war in Iraq (ironicaly, while being huge fans of democracy in action at home, the left appears to be somewhat nonplussed that such choices have now been extended to people of Iraq). Even the old war horse "The Economist" couldn't help itself with its famous cover celebrating Aznar's downfall in Spain and hoping for the trend to continue in Australia, Great Britain and elsewhere.

But how are the Willing governments actually doing at the moment?

In Great Britain, Tony Blair is not traveling too well. His personal popularity is down and he might well get punished by the voters. The problem for the left is that it's the Conservatives who are the beneficiaries of the trend. In case the left has forgotten, the Conservatives are the people who despite their criticism of Blair over war strategy, are "reiterating [their] backing for the war to oust Saddam Hussein... [and their] unqualified and rock solid support and admiration" for Britain's Armed Forces.

In Australia, the media's wishful thinking over the last few months about PM John Howard's demise appears to be premature. "The Australian" reports on the latest opinion poll: "In what appears to be a delayed reaction to the budget, there has been a startling 13 percentage-point turnaround in the primary vote, giving the Coalition a 10-point lead over Labor." Labor, by the way, remains opposed to war.

In Poland, the social democrat (but pro-US) government is on track to lose the next election. Just as in Great Britain, however, the leading opposition party, Citizens Platform, is also pro-American and in favour of war (I can't locate any English-language sources, so you either have to trust me, or read this and this in Polish).

Associated Press writes that "Staunch Support of Bush on Iraq May Put [Japanese PM] Koizumi in Awkward Position at G-8 Summit". Fortunately France and Germany don't vote in Japanese elections; the Japanese people do, and back home Koizumi is enjoying resurgence in opinion polls.

In all cases, there are many other factors beside the involvement in Iraq that account for the governments' popularity or lack thereof. The coming elections might or might not necessarily turn out to be referenda on the war. But the left should perhaps start preparing themselves for the possibility that in elections, unlike in media coverage, not everything always goes your way.


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