Could it happen here?

Could it happen here?

    Talent show host’s party takes second place in Lithuania

Following live election results in the likes of Austria and Canada is one thing, but it has to be admitted that Lithuania isn’t generally one of the 25 or so countries that I try to keep an eye on. However, it caught my attention that the party securing second place in the first round of the country’s general election a fortnight ago (the run-off round is today), the National Resurrection Party, is led by ArÅ«nas Valinskas, who is the host of a Pop Idol style talent show.

This got me thinking – could it ever happen here? To be fair, the NRP did only secure 15% of the vote in Lithuania’s rather crowded party system, and the Baltic state uses a form of proportional representation, which makes it easier for parties to gain a foothold than a first-past-the-post system (witness the differing experiences of Greens in Canada and Austria this autumn).

    Could a party led by an entertainment mogul such as Simon Cowell, on a platform of national renewal and fighting against “politics as usual” and the established parties, gain any traction in the UK, especially during difficult economic times? Money would presumably not be a problem and maybe the new outfit could secure the enthusiastic backing of a tabloid newspaper – and the “politics of celebrity” might encourage previously apathetic younger voters to support the new party.

Charismatic leadership is always important in politics – one thinks of the late Jörg Haider, Gerhard Schröder (whose campaigning abilities in 2005 helped keep the SPD in government) – and of course Barack Obama. Perhaps the nearest scenario in a major country to the one outlined above is Forza Italia – formed at the end of 1993 and in government by mid-1994, although Berlusconi’s rise to prominence filled the vacuum left by the demise of Italy’s Christian Democrats. So, Simon Cowell as a UK version of Silvio Berlusconi? Perhaps not (and some posters would argue that “No” is the standard response to any PB thread!), but the Lithuanian example certainly provides food for thought. Do PBers have any suggestions for suitable candidates to head such a party?

Bibi 8/11, Tzipi evens? Israel set for an election in early 2009

With the failure of Tzipi Livni to form a coalition government, early elections in Israel, perhaps next February, are now on the cards. As speculated previously, Shas proved to be the sticking point in putting a government together. There was the mathematical possibility of a slim coalition without Shas, but this did not materialise. So, were I a bookie, I might tentatively suggest a “tissue” of prices for Israeli PM after the elections to be Netanyahu (Likud) at 8/11, Livni (Kadima) at evens, and Barak (Labor) at 8/1, with 33/1 any other – although a country where the Pensioners’ Party can split into two factions is always going to be something of a challenge to get to grips with politically.

New Zealand (election 8 Nov) background, polls, betting market

PB to participate again in the Tote Ten to Follow competition

Peter the Punter, Peter Smith, is once again organising an site entry in the “Tote Ten to Follow competition”. This was great fun last season although we did not make any money and I’ll certainly be taking part again.

Full details are available on the new PB Channel 2.

Double Carpet

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