Gillard in big trouble no matter what happens
In an unlikely attempt to continue to govern Julia Gillard will be dammed by the two words that she has said are central to her claim to power: legitimacy and stability. A Gillard Labor Government cannot make a claim to either.
When she called the election last month Prime Minister Gillard said that she was seeking legitimacy from the Australian people after she toppled Kevin Rudd in a Prime Ministerial coup:
“I made a pledge to the Australian people on the day I became Prime Minister that they would, soon, be able to exercise their birth right, their choice of who should lead this nation. So I’m delivering on that promise today,” she said when calling the election.
Well the choice has been made and it’s not her and the Labor Party. Granted it’s not Tony Abbott and the Coalition either, but the swing and the inability to form a majority for this is Government is more than an expression of discontent – they’ve lost this election.
This is was Abbott’s point on Saturday night when he said that “the Government had lost its legitimacy.”
After Gillard’s dour speech on election night, a group of Labor supporters at Labor HQ starting chanting in the tone of primary school children “Abbott’s got no mandate, Abbott’s got no mandate”. It’s all they could hold on to at that point, and also begs the question, what do Labor have?
Without getting too drawn into the discussion of whether the party that has the majority of the two party preferred or a primary vote deserves victory, the key independents who could go either way, Katter, Windsor and Oakeshott, are more likely to be swayed by the party with the greatest amount of seats. At time of writing this looks like the Coalition 73 to 72.
If that changes to be in Labor’s favour it is the strongest argument Julia Gillard will have to hold onto power, but if it gets worse Labor could hardly try and form a government with a straight face.
Yesterday the Prime Minister said stability should be the key consideration of the independents in forming a government:
“Which party can proceed and process the business of the Australian people and get legislation passed though the parliament?”
Well if the Labor Party has to rely on the three conservative leaning independents to form a Government the answer is not Labor. The best hope for Gillard is that Labor claw back one more seat, and with the help of the left wing Green Adam Bandt and left leaning Andrew Wilke, put together a government with one of the other three.
How stable would it be, for example, for a Labor minority government trying to get an ETS through with a Green MP and Bob Katter?
There’s also the legitimate question of Labor’s own internal stability. Blame is already being heaped upon those behind the Rudd coup, especially NSW Right chiefs Mark Arbib and Karl Bitar, NSW and Queensland Governments, responsibility for leaks and Labor’s lackluster campaign. How much stability can there be in a minority government led by a feuding party which, by virtue of cutting down its leader only eight weeks ago, became fatally unstable in just its first time?
If a badly functioning minority government is forced to go to another election within a year it is most likely Tony Abbott who will benefit from an electorate looking for certainty. Like 1975 it will finish off the Labor Government, and Abbott will do everything within his power to bring on this eventuality.
Julia Gillard and the Labor Party are in huge trouble after this election, whether they can form a Government or not.
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