I have been observing a shift toward the right in popular elections around the world this year. I have posted about this trend in commenting on the elections in the United Kingdom, Italy and Australia, in which the results for conservative parties constituted improvements over the previous corresponding election, while the conservative party was reelected in Columbia, the ruling conservative party won a plurality of votes in the Swedish national elections, and a moderate Republican won a special election to the United States Senate campaigning on a conservative platform. Recently, that trend has continued in some noteworthy ways.
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ party won more seats in the Dutch parliament, even before the recent terrorism threats to Europe were reported. He is known for his opposition to Islamism. Although his party will not hold any seats in the cabinet, the coalition Dutch government depends upon its support to govern.
The Venezuelan opposition united against the autocratic Marxist leader, Hugo Chavez in legislative elections. Venezuelan voters deprived Chavez’s party of his nearly unanimous majority, which it had enjoyed for five years because the opposition had boycotted the previous election. The opposition gained more than a third of the legislative seats. Without a two-thirds majority, Chavez and his supporters will no longer be able to force through whatever legislation it wants.
In Brazil, center-left President Lula da Silva’s chosen successor unexpectedly has been forced into a runoff with centrist Jose Serra. Despite the popular Lula’s leftist rhetoric, except for ending privatization, he has continued the anti-inflationary policies of his centrist predecessor (who came from the same party as Serra), which has allowed Brazil to attract foreign investment and to prosper. Brazilian voters were concerned about scandals in Lula’s party, the possibility that its presidential candidate would favor a more leftist economic policy than Lula and her apparent support for legalizing abortion. Although she is likely to win in the final vote, her failure to win a majority decreases her mandate.
Although most of these elections represented only slight changes in electoral trends, except in the British elections, where their impact was correspondingly the most significant, they collectively signify a popular rightward shift toward smaller government, more liberty and more effective resistance to terrorism that could be a harbinger of even larger changes in elections to come.