The Gaza effect in liberal democracies

With Australia heading into elections in the next 12 months, the Gaza effect could be a major factor in local politics.

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At the start of 2024, we braced for three major elections that would chart the world’s political story over the next 4-5 years.

The Indian election took everyone by surprise, not at the Modi-led BJP winning, but at their lacklustre showing in the polls.

The US election will have us holding our breath for a few months longer.

The UK election was always meant to be a thrashing for the ruling Conservative party. The voting public did not disappoint, and the Conservatives have fallen to one of their worst ever results, losing 250 MPs while holding on to 121 seats, whereas Labour has crossed (the Modi dream of) 400 seats and now hold 412 seats.

What was a surprise in the UK election was the election of five independent pro-Palestinian MPs. The ‘ceasefire’ candidates called on the Muslim vote and dissatisfaction with Labour’s stance on Gaza. Polling amongst the 4% Muslim population earlier in the year had indicated that a large cohort were in the favour of a ceasefire, but this was not being reflected in the policies of the mainstream parties. The Labour party has come onto this idea but has not been pushing it strongly. The Muslim vote which only came into being six months ago was able to endorse 150 candidates, some from other parties but all of them locked into the ongoing issues in the Middle East and push to bring about a ceasefire.

With Australia heading into elections in the next 12 months, the Gaza effect could be a major factor in local politics. While the Teals were able to strip seats away from the Coalition at the last elections, the Labor party came through with 77 seats in a 151 seat Parliament, not the landslide victory they expected. With only a handful of seats keeping him in majority government, Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party have probably watched the unfolding Gaza effect with trepidation. While Labor has traditionally been seen as the party most likely to garner support from Muslim voters, this time the Muslim vote may well look for another home if the call for ceasefire is not heeded. Not that Australia has much of a sway on the Middle east crisis, but then Australia is reputed to punch above its weight on the international stage: perhaps it needs to glove up now if it believes in the cause.

Senator Fatima Payman and her very public exit from Labor has taken a lot of oxygen away from Labor in this current sitting of the Parliament. It appears the Gaza effect stole their thunder, while they would have preferred instead to be talking about Stage 3 tax cuts and paying off energy bills. Peter Dutton’s attempt at capitalising on this was ill-timed, and drew the ire of the soft-spoken Usman Khawaja. At times, in politics, it is judicious to simply zip it when the other side is splintering. Dutton just had to look at Donald Trump and note his silence on the disastrous debate performance from Joe Biden.

The Gaza effect on liberal democracies still has some way to play out.

Read more: The world’s largest democracy chastises a leader

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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