Monday, November 02, 2015

Monday Forum - China's one child policy, Turkish elections, Labor's isolation

This Monday's post is a short round-up. Take it where you will.

During the week, China effectively moved from a one child to two child policy. Mei Fong looks at some of the impacts of the one child policy. Leaving aside the social and human effects, in purely economic terms the policy gave China a demographic dividend that has now gone into reverse. I don't properly understand why China didn't go the whole way and simply abolish all state imposed limits on family size. Given the impact the policy has had, it seemed appropriate to formally record its end.

The photo shows Mehmed VI, the last Ottoman Emperor, going into exile. The events that followed the end of the First World War saw massive change in the area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire, including the establishment of the modern Turkish state under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

It seems appropriate to mention all this now because of the unexpectedly strong showing of the AKP party in Sunday's Turkish elections. According to Turkey's Anadolu news agency, the division of seats in the 550-seat parliament is likely to be as follows:

  • AKP (Islamist-rooted) - 316
  • CHP (centre-left secularist) - 134
  • HDP (pro-Kurdish) - 59
  • MHP (far-right nationalist) - 41
The map shows the distribution of votes across Turkey. AKP in yellow. It seems to have been a convincing win, despite complaints of electoral irregularities.

Based on the reporting, I was surprised at the strength of the AKP vote. It seems that Turkey has moved towards the conservative, towards strong rule, in the face of turmoil and challenge.

Finally, here in Australia we have a fascinating case study of what can happen when a political party locks itself into a position of opposing someone else. Mr Abbott was a polarising figure. The Labor Party defined its position by supporting certain things (refugees, national security) where they believed their was majority popular support. On others, they grabbed for opposition in often inconsistent ways where they believed their was majority political support, With time, these positions became locked in.

As I outlined in Saturday Morning Musings - reflections on Malcolm Turnbull, I am not a Turnbull supporter. However, I find quite fascinating the ways in which the policy and political shifts introduced by Mr Turnbull have left the ALP all at sea. In opting to maintain, at least for the present, the refugee and security positions where there is bi-partisan support but make other things open, the Turnbull Government has effectively forced the ALP to scramble to find new positions.

Mr Turnbull has been effective in isolating Mr Abbott and his supporters, but in doing so he has also isolated Federal Labor. It's a fascinating study.

GST anyone?  What would you advise Mr Shorten to do?


Interesting simple analysis of the Turkish election results. 


michael orourke said...

Turkey map is stark: secularising west including izmir; moderate conservative anatolia and kurdish/extremely conservative east.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Michael. Good to have a comment from you. Would you care to amplify? I agree the map is stark, but I don't know Turkey well enough.

Oh, for those interested, this is Wikipedia on on Izmir -

Unknown said...

What should Mr Shorten do? for the good of Mr Shorten, latch onto any three word populist policy prescriptions he can find, and hope that MT's media detractors hate MT more than bagging a low tax Labor govt - in - waiting. It's worked before.

What should he do overall? Quite possibly resign in favour of Albanese in a gracious handing over of the reins. "Having defeated Mr Abbott, without him even daring a ballot, it is now time for me to hand over to a new set of hands...etc etc". Somehow, I don't see it happening.

What WILL Mr Shorten do? My bet is to declare the Labor leadership vacant after they lose the next election, contest it, but go down gracefully.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi anon. Come back to you tomorrow on your comment.

2 tanners said...


Whenever I forget to tag my messages, it's because I forgot to tag my messages. :)

2 Tanners

Jim Belshaw said...

Ah, 2t. Thought the language was familiar, but wasn't sure. I don't think that that advice will help Mr Shorten very much!

2 tanners said...

Ah, now helping Mr Shorten is a different question. He should essentially grow a pair. (BTW, in news just in, ANU has determined a strong linkage between penis length and attractiveness to women, but I digress.)

His pair should consist of Big Man personality, Centrist policy and a slightly larrikin element to throw the "elitist" personality of MT into sharp relief. It's what every successful Labor leader has shown from Gough onwards. Gillard polled best when she tore into the LNP but for reasons best known to her was immediately pulled back into line to follow focus group messages.

Latham was seen as a bit too crazed, Rudd won in part because Howard lost the people's trust (so much that he lost his seat) and Shorten is, for my money, Bill Hayden 2.0. He was simply waiting for victory to fall into his lap. When a Labor Government next forms, I suspect he'll still be around, muttering something about a drover's dog.

Unknown said...

Jim: just meant that sociographics "determine" votes. ALP no hope in turnbull's electorate. West Turkey more secular. Just like west ukraine more small l liberal etc


Unknown said...

I mentioned izmir only bec of its size. AFAIK it is also fairly non-salafist. <- I dont want to say "secular". Cf java: relaxed islam but not secular vs aceh's uptight islam. Etc

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks for the clarifications, Michael. Understand the point. Constantly reminded as to how little I know! Erdogan seems to be gathering support in areas that I do not expect. With the army no longer acting as the guardian of the secular state, would seem like uncharted waters.

Hi 2t. Hadn't thought of the comparison with Mr Hayden. That makes your proposed strategy a bit difficult!

2 tanners said...

No, Jim, it makes my strategy impossible. Which is why someone will win a drovers dog election but it won't be him. He'll be given a position to go away somewhere and not bother people again. He'd be a natural for New York, or Brussels. Politicians usually excel in those positions despite what people say about nepotism.

Jim Belshaw said...

See your point, 2t. Actually, pollies do often make good diplomats. But what about other members of the Labor team? What might they do?

2 tanners said...

My recommendation for Labor After Shorten would be to become climate warriors, champion gay marriage and basically try and seize the centre. Review arrangements on Manus and Nauru to hold out the promise to the left that something humanitarian might be done, and to the right that significant funding might be saved.

If SA is not important electorally, plan to kill the submarine project. If it is important, plan kill the submarine project but offer a statewide sweetener (not sure what, but possibly rail infrastructure). Plan to redraw the funds from the RBA to reduce the deficit to show that Labor is a better manager.

Hold some kind of NBN summit with business, community and state leaders, using the most accurate figures they can find - do we save some money (now) or accelerate productivity? What do business and the community REALLY think? Campaign on the outcome. Either way, the Government loses for not having done so.

Hitch a ride on the coat-tails of not returning to surplus and campaign for better education and health care particularly for the less well-off. there really are so many things they could do, it beggars belief that not one appears to have been done.

Hiding policy until the last minute and small targets are not options now.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's an interesting combination 2t. Leaving aside subs, it would potentially wedge the Coalition and Greens. The Coalition would lose votes to the constantly reforming right parties if it moved, the Greens might have to move to the left. But isn't it all just a continuation of current issues politics?

Anonymous said...

My recommendation for Labor After Shorten would be

to become climate warriors - unclear as to for or against perpetuating this farce?
champion gay marriage - "champion"? you have to be kidding. That's like me saying I'm in favour of world peace.
seize the centre - you are kidding! (Or is this one of those sarcy posts?)
Review arrangements on Manus and Nauru - 'review' good! doing something, not so much.

If SA is not important electorally:
plan to kill the submarine project - key word 'plan'
If it is important
plan kill the submarine project but offer a statewide sweetener - but in any event, 'plan' to kill the submarine contract

... statewide sweetener...

not sure what, but possibly rail infrastructure - the underpants gang rides again!

Plan to redraw the funds from the RBA to reduce the deficit to show that Labor is a better manager - Moving to comedy now.

Hold some kind of NBN summit - a plan, a review, a summit. My goodness, the PS will be very busy!

campaign for better education and health care - and also that mothers' milk and apple pie should be available to everyone, on a suitable government subsidy, of course. At least Evan only wants his own unicorn.

Funniest stuff I've read for ages. Or at least since last browse of The Guardian. (Did you read the one about 'nationalising Twitter' - because it is now 'basic infrastructure'? And all because the 'star' was changed to a 'heart' :)


2 tanners said...


Unfortunately not sarky, simply cynical. Really really basic political and economic totems - your comment about mother's milk and apple pie is pretty close to the mark. You nailed it on review, but to be a little bit fair on Labor I'm talking pre-election when an opposition is limited to talk fests, not action. They have to appear to be active.

My main point is that there are so many things that so many polls indicate specific things the majority of Australians do or don't support. Neither party seems interested.

So, if my opinions are ludicrous, or at least good enough for a jolly chuckle, in your view what should and would Labor in opposition do after ditching Shorten?

Anonymous said...

"To be a little bit fair on Labour" - for why? But anyway, you asked what "should" they do:

Please, just stop digging a deeper hole, and plan for another two electoral cycles in opposition. Most of the deadwood should surely have retired by then.

Labor is being consumed from one side by the Greens, and wedged from the right (to use a laughable description of what used to be the Liberal Party). It is just simply unhealthy for any democracy to grant any credibility to such a shambles of an opposition.


2 tanners said...

I talking about what Labor would have to do to stand even a ghost of a chance at improving its electoral standing. I don't think I mentioned actually winning Government.

I am planning for at least one LNP governtment following the present one, and if Turnbull's longer game is as good as his short game, it'll be a fair bit more. I remember a cartoon from the 80s with Bob Hawke being carried around the race track by his entire Cabinet and the then luckless John Howard panting after, carrying his own Cabinet by himself.

That's not quite the situation here, but close. If Turnbull can hose down the class warriors enough to retake the centre, Labor will have to just about entirely restructure to take it back. Cue bloodbaths that would put Vlad the impaler to shame.

As you say, the Greens will feed on their disaffected left, and they are truly in a shambolic state. What else can they proffer but plans, reviews, motherhood and Bill Shorten's corpse?

BTW, I think you have the idea that I'm a Labor supporter. Hmm.

Jim Belshaw said...

Interesting 2t and kvd that you both assume that, post MT, Labor has no chance in the next election. I still have an open mind on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim - yes, I think it more likely than not, but I don't think that indicates a 'closed mind' on the issue. tanners - no, have never thought that.


2 tanners said...

I think both kvd and I were indicating a likely outcome. I don't know if yo've seeen the research, Jim, but people often point to the narrowing of the difference between the polls and the punter's market round election time as proof that it's better to listen to the punters. The narrowing is in fact the punters getting close to the polls, not the other way around. Currently *one year out* Sportsbet has Coalition paying $1.15 for a win and Labor $5.50. I can't find the forst post-Abbott Fairfax-IPSOS poll but it was around 53% LNP (TPP) and Labor 47% (i.e. a smidge below the LNP winning margin). When they agree like that, it can be taken as a pretty solid feeling of present voter intent.

That's a lot of ground for Labor to recover starting from no discernible policy position and a dog's breakfast of a largely invisible shadow front bench. And only the ability to attack policies that they have supported or non-commital on, hold reviews and present plans. "I'm not MT" is not going to win them an election.

Anonymous said...

Wot tanners said. Particularly that last para :)


Jim Belshaw said...

The polls are interesting. William Bowe's Bludgertrack shows an exact reversal in voting intent that had held firm for almost eighteen months. In another report (I didn't record the link and can't find it now), the overwhelming word that respondents used in reaction to the change was relief. Further, Mr Turnbull is clearly having something of a press honeymoon. All this supports your assessment.

I am still tying to understand just what Mr Turnbull is, what real changes are likely to occur.