Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A common mistake newly elected politicians make

Thinking that people have given them a mandate for any policy or action they come up with.
This mistake is shared by conservatives and liberals, regardless of the political party.

In my home state of Queensland we just had an election which just saw a massive swing against the government. At the previous election they held 78 out of 89 seats in parliament, the largest majority in Queensland history. Normally, governments with such majorities can survive at least one or two more elections. But, they did not. The Premier, Campbell Newman lost his own seat, along with 44 other members of his government.

What went wrong?

A chronicle of many of the controversial actions of the Newman government is here.

One commentator said:
a one-term government that ambushed the electorate with radical, unpopular and frequently confusing decisions driven by an arrogant and out-of-touch leader who was unable even to explain his agenda, let alone convince the voters of its merits.
But what is really going on in most elections in the Western world which are dominated by two political parties?

Roughly 70-80 per cent of the voters always vote the same way, regardless of the policies or performance of their favoured party. Then there are the 20-30 per cent of the population that are "swing voters". I think their votes are often negative not positive. They are disappointed in the current government and so vote against it. It is not that they are inspired by the policies or practices of the politician that they do vote for. Even if they agree with some of their policies they do not agree with all of their policies. Furthermore, it is increasingly common for politicians and parties, particularly in Australia, to actually campaign with few or just vague policies. After they are elected they then start to announce specific policies.

Yet, it seems to me a common assumption of newly elected governments is that they have a mandate for any and every policy they try to implement.
This is just arrogance.

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