As per earlier blog, pound has crashed and Tory poll numbers have too in UK over recent mini-budget so this will focus on other events elsewhere I have not discussed. UCP in Alberta will choose next leader and premier on October 6th so I will save that for a post after that. Instead, recent Italian election, brief mention of Swedish election earlier, upcoming Quebec election, and BC Liberal proposed name change are topics I plan to discuss.
Italy has just elected its most right wing government since World War II. While some on right may be dismissing this or saying no big deal, I believe the recent election is not a good sign and while centre-right myself, I could not endorse the incoming government. Meloni is homophobic and stance of Lega and Fdl on immigration is worrisome. I understand Italy wants to control its borders and it’s overwhelmed by illegal immigration, but you can do that in a more humane way. And as other European countries are making progress on LGBT rights, I believe this will be a huge step backwards. Also, their economic policies are totally incoherent as more spending combined with lower taxes and with Italy having record debt levels; that is not sustainable and could damage the Euro if they proceed. That being said I do believe big reason for results is things are not going well in the country. Italy is very much the sick man of Europe and in fact things are so bad that wages even when adjusted for inflation are still 5% lower than in 2008. Italy is only G7 country where median wages have not recovered to pre Great Recession levels. So I don’t blame Italians for being mad. But going far right is not the solution. At same time this should be warning to leaders that if things get bad enough, people will vote for extremes be they on right like in Italy or on left like some in Latin America. The only silver lining I see here as all three leaders have huge egos and not sure Salvini wants to play second fiddle to Meloni so this may not last. By same token opposition while combined got more votes, is all over the map and has little in common asides common enemy so Italy will need a clear opposition party to emerge if it wants a viable alternative, not just uniting every non right wing party under one banner.
Sweden has also swung right, but unlike Italy I am less worried. In Italy, 2 of 3 parties in centre-right coalition are on the far right whereas in Sweden only 1 of the 4 Blue Bloc members is far right, rest are moderate. Still I prefer idea of a grand coalition rather than one that includes far right. Back in 1999 when Austria formed a coalition between centre-right OVP and far right FPO, it was hugely controversial and lots of condemnation of it. Since then, there have been multiple such coalitions and most just shrug them off. Belgium, Germany & Netherlands only countries I know of that still have cordon sanitaires of not working with far right. Still I really hope Sweden Democrats play a marginal role. I understand immigration has not worked well in Sweden, so cutting immigration I don’t think is unreasonable or at least changing system to put more emphasis on high skilled workers which as Canada shows tends to result in better integration.
On Monday, Quebec goes to polls and I expect CAQ to easily win another majority, probably a larger one. Main reason is Legault seems to have a good pulse of what public wants and is not very ideological. There are some things I don’t like about him, especially his stance on minority rights such as Bill 21 and to lesser extent Bill 96, but he has on the whole governed province reasonably well. Still has stance Bill 21 would likely be a red line for me and thus tough to vote for him. Real question is what does opposition look like? PLQ is on track to have its worst showing in decades, while PCQ is second in some polls so be interesting if they win any seats. Quebec Solidaire is also gaining while PQ may be on last legs. Not sure I could vote PLQ as they have moved too much to the left, but not sure could go PCQ either. PCQ is too libertarian for me and I think mess in UK under Truss or tea party in US a decade ago shows why you don’t want libertarian like politicians in charge. At same time since result is a foregone conclusion, I would probably vote for best local candidate.
BC Liberals have come up with new name and party is being called BC United. I plan to vote no on this. There is absolutely no reason for party to change its name and it is a wasteful distraction from real issues. Party should focus on real concerns like high gas prices, high cost of housing, collapsing health care system, infrastructure, and economy where we need alternative solutions to status quo. Not wasting time on a name change. Fact is party did not lose because liberal name scared off several federal Conservatives, that is a complete utter myth. In the interior which goes mostly conservative federally, BC Liberals held most of their seats despite poor showing in 2020. It was Lower Mainland it has gone backwards and that is where federal Liberals are strongest. So idea too many mistakenly associate party with Trudeau Liberals is absolute rubbish. Most see party as a conservative one but with fewer crazies than federal party has. Both Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark were able to win throughout province in both Liberal strongholds and areas federal Liberals irrelevant in by having policies that appealed to many British Columbians. That is where the focus needs to be.