Today is Tuesday, 3 September 2013, and so we’re 5 days from polling day. Here I go with my present two-cents worth (and, literally, my opinion is worth about two cents – I have no illusions about my own (in)significance).
For me, the election is actually starting to take on a kind of tragic hue. Yesterday’s Financial Review, for example, followed on from the official launch of the Labor campaign at the weekend. Nearly all the pundits were administering the last rites to the government. Much the same thing was covered in today’s Australian. Notwithstanding the energy that the Fin. Rev. described of the Labor staffers travelling with the Prime Minister, it’s safe to say that the only operatives of that Party whose hearts are still in the fight are those too young to remember a defeat. I have neither warmth nor enmity for the Labor Party, but the sense of doom gives the efforts of both individual Labor candidates as well as Kevin Rudd himself an air of tragic energy that might have appealed to Euripides or Sophocles.
The other – perhaps tragic – sensation for me is that I can’t sense any enthusiasm in the electorate for the world beyond Saturday. I remember the energy in the electorate (on differing sides) after the elections of John Howard in 1996 and Kevin Rudd in 2007. I can’t feel anything like that in the public debate at present. Partly this is the fault of the Opposition itself: The Liberal and National Parties’ campaigns in general, and that of Tony Abbott in particular, have been rigorously disciplined and controlled and determined not to frighten the voters. Any sense of destiny has been replaced with a sense of mind-numbing blandness.
The minor parties have more signs of life: Although the Greens have outlined their usual positions, the Wikileaks Party flamed out in spectacular fashion, the Palmer United Party has pressed on with a moderately successful if (in my opinion) somewhat mystifying campaign, and the Katter Party has shown plenty of passion even if its own leader seems to be facing electoral problems of his own.
None of which alters the fundamental reality that minor parties are notoriously fractious and shortlived. If (as I suspect) Wikileaks is down for the count, and the Palmer and Katter groups fragment and drift into obscurity post-election, it leaves Australian politics dominated by two fairly passionless, managerial parties, with the Greens in their accustomed role as dealmakers.
In the result, then, we may be looking at a largely ideology-free, Fukuyama-esque, post-historical political future.