Sall: ‘really he is a Wade boy’

The BBC today runs a very sharp profile of Macky Sall, who seems likely to defeat incumbent Abdoulaye Wade to become Senegal’s next president. 

Sall once served as Wade’s prime minister and protégé before their political break in 2007.  After finishing second in the first round of the Senegalese election to Wade last month, the opposition has embraced Sall in order to deny Wade a constitutionally dubious third term.

The profile echoes some of the themes I highlighted yesterday, however, that Sall’s election represents continuity in the West African nation, just the kind of continuity that won’t trigger a constitutional crisis:

“Nobody can dismiss Mr Sall from what this [Mr Wade’s] party has brought in negative terms to the social infrastructure of this country, in terms of destroying the democratic fabric and allowing corruption to develop exponentially,” Senegalese writer and journalist, Adama Gaye, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

“I would not be surprised if people within the liberal party of Abdoulaye Wade join Macky Sall if he wins – and ultimately he will end up running a country with his method,” he said.

“I don’t see him as being different from Abdoulaye Wade – really he is a Wade boy.”

After a decade of economic stagnancy, however, the opposition may find that its support of Sall somewhat unfulfilling if his administration turns out to be Wade-without-Wade.

One month on, what future for Labor?

Nearly one month on from the leadership race that nearly tore apart the Labor Party, what do we know about the state of Australian politics?

First the relevant facts:

  • Kevin Rudd has returned to the backbenches after losing the leadership vote (71-31), where he has pledged not to challenge prime minister Julia Gillard for the party leadership before the next federal election.
  • Rudd has once again taken to his home state of Queensland to lick his political wounds, campaigning hard in advance of local state elections to be held this Saturday, March 24.  Rudd, who remains perhaps the most popular politician in Australia, is especially popular in Queensland.  Labor has held state-level power since 1996, but Queensland premier Anna Bligh seems unlikely to win a sixth-consecutive term for her party in the state, leaving Labor party out of power in the four largest of Australia’s six states.
  • Gillard remains slightly more popular than Coalition leader Tony Abbott as prime minister, but Labor’s primary vote share has fallen from 35% to just 31% since the leadership crisis — on a two-party preferred basis, the Coalition would defeat Labor 53% to 47%.  Gillard must announce a general election before November 2013.
  • Former NSW premier Bob Carr has been appointed by Gillard to the Senate and as the new foreign minister, replacing Rudd.
  • Gillard yesterday secured the passage of the Mining Resource Rent Tax, a 30% tax on Australian coal and iron ore miners with profits in excess of $75 million, which is expected to raise around $11 billion in revenue over three years.  The mining tax is a complimentary step to Australia’s carbon tax, both of which take effect this July.  The carbon tax passed in November 2010 and imposes a pricing regime on carbon emissions by fixing a a tax on each ton of carbon emitted by the top 500 polluters, and will move to an emissions trading scheme in July 2015.

What does this all really mean? Continue reading One month on, what future for Labor?

Mélenchon storms the Bastille

Over the weekend, the candidate of the Front de Gauche, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, held a well-attended rally in Paris in front of the Bastille, as if to confirm his arrival as the man of the hour in France’s presidential election.

Once the undisputed leader of both rounds of the presidential election, Parti socialiste candidate and frontrunner François Hollande now faces an ascendant rival on his left flank who is now taking just over 10% of the first-round vote in polls, even as moderate candidate François Bayrou continues to hold steady in polls with between 10% and 15% of the first-round vote.

With the Parti communiste français so withered that even former candidate Robert Hue has endorsed Hollande, Mélenchon — himself a former Parti socialiste member who had clashed in the past with Hollande — has consolidated the far left to a degree not seen in a generation.  The last time a far-left candidate won in excess of 10% in the first round of a presidential election was 1981 under Georges Marchais, so a double-digit finish would itself be a milestone.

No wonder the left cheers Mélenchon every time he grittily attacks Front national candidate Marine Le Pen.

In reality, though, none of Mélenchon, Bayrou or Le Pen have the kind of momentum that vaunted Le Pen’s father into the second round of the 2002 race or that put Bayrou himself into real contention in the 2007 race.  Hollande — for now — is in no trouble of falling out of the top two spots in the first round, and polls show that he’s maintained a smaller, but nonetheless still double-digit lead over Sarkozy in the second round.  So why should he worry?  Continue reading Mélenchon storms the Bastille