No trend in Labor’s losses

Political pundits and Liberal supporters might like to think that the arrival of Federal Labor government spells doom for the sitting ALP governments in the States, but Flinders political analyst Associate Professor Haydon Manning says State Labor can’t be written off.

Associate Professor Manning said the circumstances leading to the Western Australian Labor government’s defeat should not be extrapolated to South Australia.

In Western Australia Labor Premier, Alan Carpenter, replaced the elected Premier Geoff Gallop mid term led and went to an early election in a bid to capitalise on the recent disarray in the Liberal leadership. Associate Professor Manning said voters were not impressed and “rejected a stale and scandal-ridden government”.

Associate Professor Manning said unelected premiers have been rejected before: in South Australia, Don Dunstan’s successor Des Corcoran lost the election for the ALP when he figured going early would be a boon; he ran on the slogan ‘Follow The Leader’.

“We see in both cases voters happy to punish arrogance and complacency,” Associate Professor Manning said.

He does not yet see sufficient evidence of any generalised national mood of voters turning against incumbent governments.

“In each situation – recently in the Northern Territory, now in Western Australia and with what may transpire in New South Wales in two year’s time – there are unique dimensions as to why a sitting government finds itself in trouble. In a nutshell, the longer you are in government, no matter what political shade, the closer you are to the opposition benches. And winning a third term puts a government pretty close to that fate.

Speculation about the Rann government’s future follows a recent Newspoll and Advertiser polls that detect Labor’s primary vote and ‘satisfaction’ with Premier Rann in decline.

“If these recent trends are  transposed to a general election in 18 months time, that would be a dire situation for Mike Rann and Labor,” Associate Professor Manning said.

“However, that is just the point: there is 18 months for the Rann government to restore what appears to be dwindling electoral stocks.”

While Rann’s personal popularity takes a dip it remains the case that, for a Premier just past the half way mark of his second term, his performance ratings are respectable, but should they continue to decline during 2009 then the likelihood of a change of government come into focus.  .

“Indeed, in the lead-up to the election, my hunch is that respect for Rann is the asset that Labor will use again and, moreover, we have not yet seen a concerted attack on the Opposition leader, Martin Hamilton-Smith. In a nutshell, recent published opinion polls point to Labor losing seats, hardly a surprising outcome for a Government enjoying such a large majority and 18 months away from an election.

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