|Do elections ever change the system?
As angry citizens around the world are becoming aware of how broken the global economic and political systems are, their desperation for real change has resulted in dramatic shifts in political majorities in the Western world.
In March of this year, voters in Australia miffed by Gilliard’s reversal on her pledge not to introduce carbon taxes, nearly wiped out her Labor party in Queensland.
The majority Labor party went from holding 51 seats to just 7 in what operatives called “devastating” and a “stunning reversal” in the nation’s political party power.
Just last week, U.K.’s prime minister David Cameron had to apologize for terrible election losses where hundreds of his fellow Conservative councillors lost their seats “against a difficult national backdrop.” Pundits called it “embarrassing.”
Cameron blamed voter sentiment on his “difficult decisions to deal with the debt, the deficit and the broken economy that we inherited,” decisions which he vowed to “go on making” with or without public support.
This weekend saw two more European powerhouses take big hits. France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy lost his re-election bid, while Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) party in Germany took a nose dive in state elections spelling trouble for her re-election next year.
Also over the weekend, a major power shift happened in Greece as furious voters delivered a “humiliating defeat” to the “bank bailout and austerity” parties that previously held majority rule.
What does this wave of anti-incumbent sentiment mean for Obama and the Democrats in U.S. elections this fall? And, will replacing one party with another actually solve anything?
The mounting anger manifesting as the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movements does not bode well for incumbents in the United States. If these recent elections in Europe and Australia are any indication, Obama may be heading for the same fate.
Tracking polling shows that Obama is neck-and-neck with either GOP front-runner Mitt Romney or GOP hopeful Ron Paul. With the general election still half-a-year away and economic conditions worsening for most Americans, it seems Obama could face defeat in November.
To the question of whether these “radical” shifts in power will actually mean anything; many view it as just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. And they’re likely correct.
Voters may believe that by voting for candidates who oppose bank bailouts and austerity, somehow the iceberg of debt owed to criminal bankers will vanish. Perhaps if newly elected leaders follow the Iceland model of debt forgiveness and real monetary reform, these countries may stand chance.
Without that, however, playing musical chairs in the false left-right paradigm will likely do no good.
Read other articles by Eric Blair here.