The end of negative politics?

September 8, 2008 — 4 Comments

So the Libs managed a 6% swing in Western Australia, and although the result is a hung Parliament with the rabid Nats calling the shots, it was a remarkable result by any stretch of the imagination for the Liberals, given 4 leaders in as many years, and a party that spends more time knifing each other than the ALP.

Like many, I called a Liberal wipeout early on, but the polls showed otherwise, and the result speaks for itself.

Between talking to people on the ground (given I no longer live in the State) and from commentary online, the picture was fairly clear. Voters rejected the negative campaign of the Carpenter Government, and instead went for Barnett who from all accounts ran a small target, safe campaign, that wasn’t overly negative but instead focused on key policy messages. Couple that with the cynical move to call the election early, which apparently was popping up as a reason among swinging voters to vote against the Government.

The end of negative politics perhaps, at least as a tool for incumbents?

Kevin07 is another example. Focus on the leader, leadership, fresh ideas. Highlight the negatives of the Government without obsessing over them as your only selling point, which is the strategy that won 2004 for Howard, but lost 2007.

Question being though: is this a significant shift in the electorate, or simply the result of longer term Governments approaching their used by dates?

We’ll see. Consider the Obama campaign in the US that has gone for the most part positive against an amazing barrage of negative campaigning from McCain (amazing in an Australian sense, you have to visit the US to believe it as online doesn’t relay the depth of the campaign). Have voters in Western democracies had enough of the politics of old?

I hope so. The negativity is one of the very reasons I’m happy I’m not involved in politics today.